Somali militants say they will murder French hostage over rescue attempt
By Jason Straziuso and Abdi Guled, Somalia, APMOGADISHU--Somalia's al-Qaida-linked rebels said Wednesday that they will kill the French intelligence agent they hold hostage.
January 17, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
The Islamist extremists said that France signed the death warrant of a French intelligence agent when it launched a rescue operation last weekend that failed to bring him home, in a statement released Wednesday.
The militant group al-Shabab has held the French agent, Denis Allex, since July 2009. Al-Shabab said that it decided to kill Allex in retaliation for the late Friday to early Saturday operation. Two French soldiers and 17 Somalis were killed during the rescue attempt, French officials say.
French officials believe Allex is already dead. Al-Shabab has said Allex was still alive after the rescue attempt.
Vague language from the Islamist extremists in Wednesday's statement does little to make things clear. Al-Shabab did not offer proof Allex is alive or say when he would be executed if he is still alive.
“With the rescue attempt, France has voluntarily signed Allex's death warrant,” the statement said.
Adm. Edouard Guillaud, France's military chief of staff, said officials there believe al-Shabab's announcement is propaganda.
“We have had no indication since Friday night's raid that ... Denis Allex is alive,” he told Europe 1. “We think that he is in all likelihood dead ... It's a technique that they have already resorted to in other cases that didn't concern us.”
Al-Shabab also said it had been willing to free Allex in exchange for “Muslim prisoners.”