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OCTOBER 17 2009 14:41h

Guns and grenades for Somali Ramadan quiz winners

AK-47 also known as Kalashnikov.

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A ticket to jihad was the prize for the winners of a team quiz organised by Somalia's insurgent Shebab group during Ramadan.

No luxury cruise but a ticket to jihad was the prize for the winners of a team quiz organised by Somalia's insurgent Shebab group during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

"The reason the young men were rewarded with weapons is to encourage them to participate in the ongoing holy war against the enemies of Allah in Somalia," Sheikh Abdullahi Alhaq said at a ceremony late Friday.

The radio-broadcast quiz organised by the Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab organisation in the southern Somali city of Kismayo lasted throughout Ramadan, which ended last month.

Five neighbourhoods of the port city entered the competition, which consisted mainly of questions on science, culture and the Koran.

The winners -- a team from Farjano district -- were given a first prize consisting of one AK-47 assault rifle, two hand grenades, an anti-tank landmine and office supplies at a ceremony attended by hundreds of residents.

"The team in the first place gets the weapons and office equipment worth upward of 1,000 dollars," Sheikh Abdullahi Alhaq said, sparking cheers and applause in the crowd.

"It was a wonderful event because I have never seen students being rewarded with weapons as a result of an education competition", Mohamed Hersi, a Kismayo trader who attended the ceremony, told AFP.

The Shebab and an alliance of local Islamist factions seized control of Kismayo -- one of the country's main ports -- more than a year ago and imposed a strict form of Sharia, banning sports, DVDs and Western clothes.

The quiz show's runners-up had to settle for an AK-47 and ammunition.