Wajir — The Kenyan government on Friday (February 15th) condemned al-Shabaab for its alleged execution of a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldier in its custody, while the militant group has threatened to execute five more Kenyans if its demands are not met.
"Though this claim can't be verified, KDF strongly condemns the alleged execution", Kenyan military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir said on Twitter on Friday.
Chirchir said additional threats to execute more Kenyans hostages show al-Shabaab's continued and blatant disregard for human life and dignity. "KDF remains committed to protect the hard won security and degrade the ability of the Al Shabaab to disrupt the region's peace & stability" Chirchir said.
Al-Shabaab first threatened to execute the six Kenyans in their custody in a video message on January 23rd, demanding the release of all Muslims accused of terrorism in Kenyan prisons, as well as the release of Muslims extradited to Uganda for terrorism charges, in an apparent reference to those jailed or on trial for al-Shabaab's 2010 bombings in Kampala, which killed 74 people.
The video gave the government three weeks to secure their release, an ultimatum that expired on Thursday. Further examination of the video revealed that al-Shabaab was misrepresenting the hostages as prisoners of war, when if fact they were government employees.
Al-Shabaab gave the Kenyan government three more days to respond to its demands. "Despite the Mujahideen opening the doors of negotiations and giving them ample time, the Kenyan government has been wilfully negligent and has failed to take adequate steps to secure the release of its citizens," al-Shabaab said in a statement.
"In 72 hours, the prisoners will either lose their lives because of their government's betrayal or celebrate their government's assistance and rejoice in their freedom," the group said.
Kenya Defence Minister Yussuf Haji said the group should unconditionally release the two government officials it kidnapped from Wajir in January 2011.
"I still stand that the group should release the civilians it kidnapped from Kenya to join their families. In a war situation, no side should capture civilians to negotiate for whatever demands," he told Sabahi.
He said the Islam the group claims to proselytise prohibits killing hostages.
Adan Yussuf Muse, a Nairobi-based security consultant, told Sabahi that while it is difficult to establish whether the execution claims are true, the militants learned from their previous mistakes by not showing photos of the alleged killed officer.
"Unlike before, when it posted its message on its Twitter account, the group opted to send a statement to the media, perhaps fearing that its new account would have been blocked like the first one," Muse said.