News / Europe

    Somali Rebels to Announce Fate of French Hostage

    VOA News
    Somali rebel group al-Shabab says it has reached a decision on the fate of French hostage Dennis Allex, who French forces tried to free in an unsuccessful operation.
     
    In a statement Monday, the group said it has reached a "unanimous verdict" on Allex's fate, and that details on the decision will be published in the "coming hours."
     
    French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says one French soldier was killed in the rescue attempt late Friday and another is missing and presumed dead.  He also said officials believe Allex has already been killed by his captors.
     
    "As concerns Somalia, I confirm what I have already said: everything leads us to believe that the hostage has been murdered and that the other soldier who is missing has been killed," he said.  "Everything leads us to believe, unfortunately, that the Shabab are about to organize a macabre and obscene show," he said. 
     
    Al-Shabab has posted photos of what appeared to be the body of a French soldier to its Twitter account, as well as a photo of captured French weapons. 
     
    Seventeen Somali fighters were killed during Friday's raid.  But analyst Roland Marchal with France’s National Center for Scientific Reach tells VOA the French troops were not expecting the level of resistance they met on the ground.
     
    "The picture you get is that the Shabab was very armed and on foot was [a] major strength, and the French troops were not expecting that amount of people - well-armed, well-equipped, and ready to fight up to death.  So that is the main miscalculation on that," he said. 
     
    U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States provided "limited technical support" to the operation.
     
    In a letter to congressional leaders released Sunday by the White House, Obama says U.S. combat planes briefly entered Somali airspace, but U.S. forces and aircraft took no direct part in the raid.
     
    Militants kidnapped Allex from his Mogadishu hotel in July, 2009.  Another Frenchman was also captured.  He either escaped or was set free one month later.  The two were in Somalia to train government troops fighting al-Shabab.
     
    Allex was last seen in a videotape in October. 

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    Comments
         
    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    January 14, 2013 12:11 PM
    A very sad episode for those that lost family members, at the hands of the terrorists. All civilized people feel the pain when people are assasinated by murdering terrorists; these terrorists have also murdered massive numbers of their own co-citizens.

    Rescues of hostages are always very difficult operations, especially when done over such far distances, from the nation carrying out the operation.
    I can't understand the callousness of the French government in announcing the operation, in identifying the hostage, in identifying the hostage's occupation, and even to identify themselves as the nation that carried out the failed raid. The resons for maintainig full secrecy is/relates to the potential for "BLOW BACK ", and injury to the hostages if the operation fails. Given that they did not have the body of the victimes, it can't be ruled out that the hostage/soldier were in fact alive.

    I think the release of information was an appalling act. Such rescue operations should be carried in outmost secrecy, from start to finish, including no identyfiers... and the information not released for at lest 10 yrs. Granstanding politicians are extremely detrimental to these operations and to future operations. Grandstanding is wrong, even when the operation is successful. If politicians want to demostrate they are tough, then should actually participate in the mission if they are mentally and physically capable to do so.
    From what the few facts the media has indicated, one can conclude that the operation was extremly risky, and had a small chance to succeed. I hope the French do an in depth analysis, and better handle such incidents in the future.

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