Second French soldier 'dies after Somalia raid'
January 14, 2012 Markacadeey
Islamist rebels in Somalia say a second French soldier has died of his wounds
after a failed rescue attempt.
An al-Shabab statement said the commando had died of gunshot wounds and that his
body was in its possession.
The group also said it would soon reveal its decision about the fate of Dennis
Allex, an intelligence agent who the soldiers tried to rescue on Friday.
France's defence minister has said evidence suggests both commandos and Mr Allex
died during the operation.
The raid came hours after French troops had intervened in the west African state
A statement purportedly published on Twitter by al-Shabab's press office on
Monday claimed that the second soldier to die had been the commander of the
French rescue operation.
"The commander was deserted by his comrades after a fierce firefight and
subsequently captured by the mujahideen," it said.
Al-Shabab paramedics "transferred him to a hospital at the base, but he
succumbed to his injuries hours later," the statement added.
"The mujahideen recovered several weapons and the soldier's gear from the scene
of battle and later also managed to retrieve valuable information from the
soldier before his death. The body of the soldier is still within the custody of
The statement said al-Shabab had also "reached a unanimous verdict on the fate
of Dennis Allex after three-and-a-half years in captivity".
"The details of that verdict and some background information of the events
leading up to the failed rescue operation will be published in the coming hours,
Al-Shabab has offered no proof that Mr Allex - a codename - is alive.
Earlier, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters: "I can
confirm that everything leads us to believe that the hostage was killed and [a
second] soldier was killed."
"All indications unfortunately lead us to believe that al-Shabab are preparing
to organise a disgraceful and macabre display."
A battle erupted with al-Shabab militants after commandos swooped on the town of
Bulo Marer on Friday night and Saturday morning. France says 17 militants were
killed in the fighting.
On Sunday, Mr Le Drian defended the raid in an interview on French radio.
"It's good to talk, to look for a deal, but we cannot bow to unreasonable
conditions, as was the case with the Shabab.
"The Shabab were asking for the release of I don't know how many jihadist
prisoners around the world. It was impossible and completely unrealistic," he
A senior al-Shabab commander, Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim, told the AFP news agency
that it had been warned about the impending raid, but gave no more details.
Somali witnesses said a number of civilians had also been killed in the
operation, which involved some 50 troops and at least five helicopters.
On Sunday, President Barack Obama acknowledged US forces had provided some
technical support for the French operation.
He wrote in a letter to Congress: "United States combat aircraft briefly entered
Somali airspace to support the rescue operation, if needed."
Mr Allex appeared in a video in June 2010, appealing to France to drop its
support for the Somali government.
He last appeared in another video in October, looking gaunt and calling on
President Hollande to work for his release.
Somalia has not had an effective central government for more than two decades.
France has a large military base in neighbouring Djibouti, including army,
marine and air force units.