Somali militants plan to try two French advisers

Militia soldiers hold weapons as they train to prepare an attack in Mogadishu earlier this month.
The Somali militants who kidnapped two French advisers plan to try the pair as soon as possible, a Somali journalist told CNN on Saturday.

A spokesman from Al Shebaab — the al Qaeda-linked group leading an Islamist insurgency in Somalia — told the journalist the advisers were acting against Islam, will be tried under sharia, or Islamic, law, and then be punished accordingly. The advisers — who had been helping the Somali government with security — were kidnapped in the Somali capital of Mogadishu Tuesday morning, according to the French Foreign Ministry. The two French citizens were on an official mission in the Somali capital when they were seized by armed men, the ministry said in a statement. Eyewitnesses said a group of gunmen stormed into Mogadishu’s Sahafi hotel, which is frequented by foreigners, and seized the two French citizens. Somali government officials confirmed that about 10 gunmen forced their way into the hotel, but had no details on the reported kidnapping.

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Witnesses said the gunmen took the two blindfolded and bound hostages on foot towards Mogadishu’s Bakara market, a stronghold for Islamist insurgents fighting against the Somali government. Somalia’s interim prime minister said Thursday that he had spoken to one of the two French hostages. Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke told a news conference at the presidential palace in the Somali capital that the hostage said he was in good health and being treated well.

Al Shabaab — which is on the United States’ terror list — wants to overthrow Somalia’s weak, transitional government and implement a radical version of sharia, or Islamic law. Fighting in Somalia’s capital city has displaced 200,000 Mogadishu residents since early May, according to the United Nations.