Al Shabaab, the Islamist militant group in Somalia, used its Twitter account on Monday to distribute graphic photos purporting to show the body of a dead French soldier. The man was allegedly killed during a raid to free a French hostage in southern Somalia.
The three photos show the bloodied body and face of a young man, surrounded by weapons and gear on an orange blanket.
(Scroll down for photos. WARNING: IMAGES ARE DISTURBING)
The terrorist organization went so far as to goad French president Francois Hollande over their moral victory through a series of tweets:
Two French soldiers died during a secret operation on Saturday that aimed to rescue a French intelligence source kidnapped by Al Shabaab in 2009, the Associated Press reports. The hostage, codenamed Denis Allex, is believed to have also been killed during the raid. Al Shabaab has denied this report, saying it would soon announce a decision on Allex's fate, the AP added.
Allex was captured along with a colleague from his hotel in Mogadishu in July 2009. The second hostage managed to escape, while Allex was last seen in a video in October 2012, pleading for his life.
In this undated file image from a video posted on islamic militant websites and made available Wednesday June 9 2010, a man identified as French security agent Denis Allex pleads for his release from the Somali militant group al-Shabaab who have been holding him for nearly a year. (AP Photo, File)
Militants of Al Shabaab have built an impressive media presence since the launch of a Twitter account in December 2011. Using the Twitter handle @HSMPress, the Harakat Al Shabaab Al Mujahideen has nearly 20,000 followers and regularly tweets surprisingly clever -- though not always accurate -- updates on events in Somalia.
"All avenues for negotiations were open, but France chose treachery over negotiations. It failed, & it failed miserably. Well, C'est la vie!," the group posted on Saturday.
The terror group even publishes press releases written in perfect English.
The Islamist militants of Al Shabaab have been battling the weak Somali government for control over the country for several years. In February 2012, the group formalized its ties with al-Qaeda, although the extent of the relationship remains unclear.
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