The Islamist group al Shabaab is forcibly removing gold and silver teeth from residents in southern Somalia because it says they contravene strict religious law, locals from a coastal town said yesterday.
Residents in Marka say al Shabaab has been rounding up anyone seen with a silver or gold tooth and taking them to a masked man who then rips them out using basic tools.
"I never thought al Shabaab would see my denture as a sin. They took me to their station and removed my silver tooth," resident Bashir said.
"I met several men and women whose dentures were being pulled out by a masked man they called a doctor. The doctor used a pincer or his gloved hand depending on the strength of the tooth," Bashir said. Al Shabaab officials declined to comment.
The Islamist group says the gold and silver teeth are used for fashion and beauty, which is against strict interpretations of Islam, residents said. The crude dental work has fuelled fears of health risks. Al Shabaab is an al-Qa'ida-inspired group that has taken control of large swathes of south and central Somalia.