January 24, 2013
Al-Shabab Threatens to Kill Kenyan Hostages
A Somali militant group says it will execute several Kenyan hostages unless Kenya heeds its demands to free Muslims arrested on terrorism charges.
Militant group al-Shabab issued its ultimatum on a video and Twitter messages released late Wednesday. The video shows six men said to be Kenyans in the group's custody - two on camera, four in a photograph.
On Twitter, Al-Shabab said it will kill the men unless Kenya meets its demands, which include the release of all Muslims held on terrorism charges in Kenya, and the release of Muslims sent to Uganda to face terrorism charges there.
The group said Kenya has until February 14 to respond.
Kenya's defense ministry spokesman Bogeta Ongeri said he knows of four Kenyans in al-Shabab custody - two civilians and two soldiers. He also said Kenya will not negotiate with al-Shabab.
"We don't succumb to... We don't negotiate with criminals. In any case, here in this country, our government - we don't have any prisoners from the side of al-Shabab," said Ongeri.
He said any Somalis arrested during recent anti-terrorism operations by Kenyan security forces were handed over to the Somali government.
Ongeri said Kenya is working to see how it can bring the hostages home safely.
Last week, al-Shabab executed a French hostage, Denis Allex, after an unsuccessful French rescue operation.
Kenya sent soldiers into Somalia in October 2011 to fight al-Shabab, after a series of cross-border kidnappings it blamed on the group. Since then, Kenya has endured a wave of bomb and grenade attacks, often blamed on al-Shabab or its sympathizers.