News24

Shabaab 'may stage grisly display of dead'

2013-01-14 14:15

Paris - France's defence minister said on Monday he feared that Somali Islamists will stage a "macabre" display of the bodies of a French soldier and a French spy believed killed during a botched rescue operation.

"All indications unfortunately lead us to believe that the Shabaab are preparing to organise a disgraceful and macabre display" of the bodies, Jean-Yves Le Drian said, referring to the al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab group.

In 1993, the bodies of US soldiers were dragged through the streets and mutilated in the Somali capital Mogadishu after a battle between American forces and Somali militia fighters.

Saturday's attempt to free an intelligence agent with the alias Denis Allex went badly wrong, leaving one French soldier killed and another missing, and Le Drian said it was likely that the Islamists had killed their hostage.

The minister said at the weekend only that a soldier was missing, but on Monday he said it now appeared that the soldier had died.

The Shabaab said on Monday that he had died despite their efforts to save him. But they have denied that Allex is dead.

Le Drian said on Saturday that 17 guerrillas were killed during the raid, while witnesses said eight civilians were killed in the operation at Bulomarer, a town still in the control of the militants.

Allex had been held by the militants for three-and-a-half years. The botched operation to free him involved some 50 troops and at least five helicopters.