x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Somalia Sharia court to try French 'agents'

Two French agents kidnapped in Somalia will be tried under Sharia law, an official of the hardline Shebab rebel group holding them says.

Two French agents kidnapped in Somalia will be tried soon under Sharia law, an official of the hardline Shebab rebel group holding them said today. A Somali minister said the pair had been taken out of the capital and there was concern for their safety. Separately, three foreign aid workers were also reported kidnapped overnight in a Kenyan town close to the Somali border. The French agents "were caught assisting the apostate government and their spies," a senior Shebab officer said.

"The decision about their fate will depend on the outcome of the Islamic court that will hear the charges against them," he added. The two agents, in Somalia to train government forces, were snatched at gunpoint from their hotel in central Mogadishu early on Tuesday. Shebab is one of two allied insurgent groups battling to overthrow the transitional government which is supported by the international community.

The Somalian social affairs minister Mohammed Ali Ibrahim told French news channel France 24 Saturday from Mogadishu that the two men had been taken out of the capital. "As long as they were here, there were contacts," he said. "Intermediaries were in contact with Shebab and we knew they were in good health, but since this morning they have been taken away. "We must be concerned about them and take strong action."

He said France was putting pressure on Eritrea, which allegedly arms Shebab and other extremists in Somalia and the Somali government was also sending envoys to Shebab. "They trade in human beings," Mr Ibrahim said. "Either they kill them or they demand an enormous ransom." On Friday, Mr Ibrahim said the "main reason for the kidnapping is that certain Shebab have associates imprisoned in France, pirates."

The French president Nicholas Sarkozy's chief of staff Claude Gueant said yesterday that Paris did not believe the men were in imminent danger, but "tortuous bargaining... could take a while". *AFP