The armed Islamist group al-Shabab has said it has decided to execute a French intelligence agent who has been held captive for three years and was the object of an unsuccessful rescue bid in Somalia on Saturday.
The al-Qaeda-linked group released a statement on Tuesday saying it had “reached a unanimous decision to execute the French intelligence officer, Denis Allex”.
“With the rescue attempt, France has voluntarily signed Allex’s death warrant,” said al-Shabab.
A senior al-Shabab official told the AFP news agency that Allex “has been sentenced and this judgement will not be changed”.
“As far as we are concerned this man should die,” he added .
French officials had previously said that Allex, presumed to be an alias for the agent, was most likely killed by his captors during the failed rescue attempt, which left two French soldiers and 17 rebels dead.
French troops retrieved the bodies of one of the soldiers killed in the attack, and Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French defence minister, said on Saturday that the other soldier was missing, presumed dead.
Pictures of the second French soldier, who al-Shabab say was the commander of the raid, were posted on its Twitter page.
The statement released by al-Shabab on Tuesday said that the “commander” was severely injured during the attack and captured by the group, but later succumbed to his injures at a hospital.
Le Drian said on Monday that the missing soldier had died, without indicating if he was the commander of the mission.
He also said that 17 fighters were killed in the raid. Witnesses claimed that eight civilians also died during the operation at Bulomarer, a al-Shabab controlled town south of Mogadishu, the capital.
A spokesman for al-Shabab told Al Jazeera in an exclusive interview on Sunday that French troops had attacked a house in Bulomarer, but al-Shabab fighters had pushed them back.
“When the [French] soldiers could not get anywhere, they used helicopters to bomb indiscriminately,” said Ali Mahmoud Rage, who added the French were unable to successfully achieve their mission.
“[The French] also killed more than 10 civilians, including women, men, and the elderly,” he said. “They also failed to capture the French soldier, and he is still in our custody.”