Somali militants claim to execute Kenyan soldier

Feb 15, 2013, 10:57 AM EST

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia claimed Friday that they have executed a Kenyan soldier after the Nairobi government failed to meet their demands.

The Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab said in a statement Friday that they executed an army private after deadline expired Thursday. The militants want the release of all "Muslim prisoners being held on so-called terrorism charges in Kenya."

Al-Shabab threatened to execute the five remaining Kenyan hostages in 72 hours if the Muslim prisoners are not released.

"While the Mujahideen have executed the serving KDF (Kenya Defense Forces) soldier, there is still a chance of securing the release of the remaining 5 prisoners. As a response to the growing pleas of the prisoners' families who have contacted us, HSM (al-Shabab) is adding a grace period of 72 hours," the statement said.

Al-Shabab said the Kenyan government does not value the lives of Kenyan citizens because it had not taken the opportunity to negotiate for the lives of the hostages.

Kenya has said it will not negotiate with terrorists.

"We cannot negotiate with terrorists ... we want to rescue the hostages or have al-Shabab surrender them unconditionally," said military spokesman Col. Cyrus Oguna.

Oguna said the Kenyan army cannot confirm al-Shabab's claim that the rebels executed the soldier in their custody.

Kenya has suffered a spate of gun and explosive attacks since it deployed troops to Somalia to fight the militants in October 2011. This move came after cross-border attacks blamed on the militants.

Twitter on Jan 25 suspended the account used by al-Shabab after the insurgents used the micro-blogging site to announce a death threat against Kenyan hostages. Twitter's terms of service says it does not allow specific threats of violence against others in its posts.

Al-Shabab uses Twitter mainly to make claims of enemy kills and to spread its view of events in Somalia and East Africa. Terrorism analysts believe the account is run by a Western-educated person; al-Shabab claims several dozen American and Britons among its ranks.