Al-Shabaab nabs 50 over Khat ban demo

Medeshi March 28, 2009
Al-Shabaab nabs 50 over Khat ban demo
Al-Shabbab fighters have arrested more than 50 people in the southern Somali town of Baidoa for staging a protest against a ban on Khat.
(Photo:A market trader sells Khat in Somali capital, Mogadishu.)
Witnesses said hundreds of people took to the streets of Baidoa and blocked major roads in the city which consequently prompted Al-Shabba fighters to disperse the protestors using live bullets, Press TV correspondent reported.
The report added that Al-Shabaab militants went on rampage after the demonstration subsided, and destroyed kiosks used by traders to sell the popular narcotic drug in the town.
Al-Shabaab, which controls the southern Somali town imposed a ban on the sale of Khat, on Tuesday.
Khat leaves, used by Somalis for centuries, are known for their energy-giving qualities, and for making people more relaxed, talkative and friendly.
They are also said to improve sexual prowess -- although in some men it can actually have the opposite effect.
US military chiefs, who lost 18 soldiers during Operation Restore Hope in 1993, were amazed by the endurance of Somali militiamen who fought on for days boosted by Khat.
Many Somalis believe Khat is no more dangerous or anti-social than alcohol or tobacco and should not be criminalized. This is partly due to the fact that the Somali community has high levels of unemployment and non-engagement with the rest of society.
Somalia, located at Horn of Africa, has been mired in political and military anarchy since 1991 when Mogadishu warlords toppled former president Siad Barre.