A Somali militant group publicly executed two teenage girls Wednesday after accusing them of being spies for the Somali government, according to the group, eyewitnesses and a relative of one of the girls.
"Those two girls were evil and they were spies for the enemy (the Somali government), but the mujahedeen caught them and after investigation, they admitted their crime, so they have been executed," said Sheikh Yusuf Ali Ugas, commander of Al-Shabaab in Beledweyne, a town in central Somalia.
The teens were blindfolded with their hands behind their backs against a tree, and shot, according to a local journalist.
A resident of Beledweyne told CNN that Al-Shabaab called on the town's residents to come out and watch the execution.
Help trickled in Thursday to remote islands where whole villages were flattened by a earthquake and tsunami in western Indonesia.
At least 343 people died and another 340 were missing after the magnitude 7.7 earthquake Monday, according to Indonesia's National Disaster Agency.
Meanwhile, nature continued to shows its force, with hot clouds and ash spewing from a Java volcano that erupted and killed more than 30 residents. A magnitude 5.3 earthquake rumbled in Maluku province to the east. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage there.
The delivery of aid to the devastated islands near Sumatra is a logistics challenge.
John Avlon, CNN contributor and columnist for the Daily Beast, explains why independent voters are on the rise, why they hold the keys to next week's midterm elections, and why candidates from both parties need to be careful with them.
Fluffy, at 24 feet, was recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's longest snake.
The world's longest snake – at 24 feet and 300 pounds – has died at a zoo in Ohio.
Fluffy, a reticulated python recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's longest snake, died Tuesday night. A necropsy found a tumor on her ovary, according to a press release from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
"She was greatly loved here by the staff, mainly because she was a gentle snake," zoo spokeswoman Carrie Pratt told CNN affiliate WBNS-TV.
Fluffy was 18 years old and had lived since 2007 at the Columbus Zoo, which had built a special habitat for her.
Reticulated pythons are nonvenomous constrictors found in tropical forests in Southeast Asia, according to the zoo's website. They are the world's longest snakes, averaging 10 to 20 feet in length. They live on small mammals like rodents but sometimes eat wild pigs, deer and primates.
10:00 am ET - Leonard Gonzalez trial – Third day of testimony in the trial of Leonard Gonzalez Jr., who’s accused of killing Byrd and Melanie Billings, a prominent Florida Panhandle couple known to adopt children with special needs.
12:15 pm ET - White House briefing – The White House holds a briefing with reporters.
An update from the CNN newsdesk in London on the stories we're following on Thursday:
More France strikes - The French Pension Reform Bill now goes to the courts to determine whether it is constitutional. Unions have called for a national strike Thursday against pension reform. Read the full story
Uganda homophobia - Stosh Mugisha is breaking Taboos. She is in love with a woman, and it almost killed her. Two weeks ago she was outed by a Ugandan tabloid that called on people to “hang” gay Ugandans. Their house was surrounded by a mob and they had to flee. CNN's David McKenzie investigates attitudes towards gays in Uganda and finds that an “anti-gay” bill that was supposed to be shelved is very much on the cards again. Watch the report
The University of Notre Dame in Indiana will hold a special Mass on Thursday in memory of a 20-year-old student who died when a camera tower he was standing on fell over.
Declan Sullivan, a junior from Long Grove, Illinois, was filming the college's football team practice on Wednesday. It was part of his job with the athletics department, the college said.
The hydraulic scissor lift he was standing on fell over. He died shortly afterward, the school said.
The cause of the accident is under investigation.
"No words can convey the shock and grief we all are experiencing," said college President John Jenkins. "Declan was a well-liked, bright and enthusiastic film and marketing student, and a valued member of the Notre Dame family."
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