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Three Britons jailed in Somalia

Three British nationals, an American and two Kenyans have been sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for taking millions of dollars in cash into Somalia.

Somali information ministry spokesman Abdifitah Abdinur said two of the defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prison, the others were sentenced to 10 years.

The men were arrested in Mogadishu last month after their planes were found to be carrying millions of dollars in cash.

A Somali official previously said the planes are used by companies that frequently deliver ransoms to pirates.

The average ransom paid to pirates has reached nearly five million US dollars (£3.1 million) . The ransoms are often air-dropped down to the hijacked ships.

It seemed unlikely the six defendants would have to serve their full sentences. Asked about possible pardons or parole, Mr Abdinur said that "everything is possible and I can't comment on the future".

Elsewhere in Mogadishu, Somalia's most powerful militant group, al-Shabab, executed two men over allegations of spying for the government. A man with the rank of judge in the group said the men admitted the charges against them.

They were killed by a firing squad. Al-Shabab summoned residents to watch the execution.

Al-Shabab wants to impose an ultraconservative version of Islam on Somalia. The group carries out such punishments as amputations and stonings.

Somalia has not had a functioning central government since 1991, which has allowed pirates to flourish in the north and militants to take control of wide swathes of territory in the south.

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