Fear Emerges in Fate of French Hostages in Somalia

Hope that talks with Islamist rebels in Somalia might lead to the rapid release of two French agents has receded amid conflicting reports over the status of negotiations. The pair, French defence officials on a mission to support Somalia’s transition government, were seized from a Mogadishu hotel room and are believed to be in the hands of the rebel militia. A senior member of the Shebab proclaimed that the French pair would be charged with spying and tried under Islamic law in a Sharia court. Some locals have suggested the hostage-taking is in retaliation to a recent trial against Somali piracy in Paris.

Al-Qaeda Group Holds French Hostages in Somalia

Two French nationals kidnapped after gunmen stormed into a hotel in Mogadishu are now being held by a Somali al-Qaeda-linked group, according to reports. The two French security advisers will be tried under Sharia law, claims an official from their captors, the Islamic al-Shabab militia. The unnamed spokesperson said they would be tried for spying and “conspiracy against Islam”.

Reuters, citing rebel sources, said the hostages were initially given to Hizbul Islam, one of the Islamist groups fighting the Somali government. They had handed one hostage over to al Shabaab earlier in the week, and the other on Thursday night. The men were abducted at the Sahafi Hotel in the capital while on a mission to train the Somali government forces that are fighting Islamist forces. Al Shabaab — which is on the United States’ terror list — wants to overthrow Somalia’s transitional government and implement a more radical version of sharia.