A French security adviser kidnapped in Somalia 11 months ago has appeared on a video pleading for his release. His captors, Somalia's Al Shabaab rebels, are demanding the withdrawal of all foreign advisers and private security firms in the country.
AFP - A French security advisor kidnapped in Somalia 11 months ago appealed for help to secure his release, in a video posted on jihadist websites and picked up by the SITE monitoring group on Wednesday.
"I ask the French people to do everything for my release," said the hostage, Denis Allex, who appeared in the video dressed in orange, seated on the ground in front of four armed men, and reading from a text in French. He appeared to be reading the statement under duress.
The authenticity of the video, which was just over five minutes in length, could not immediately be verified.
The Frenchman cited the demands of his captors, Somalia's Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels, which include the immediate end to any political and military support from France for the Somali government and the withdrawal of all foreign advisors and private security firms in Somalia.
The kidnappers "don't physically abuse me," Allex said, but added that he was still suffering psychologically.
The group also demanded the release of "mujahedeen" prisoners held in countries who will be identified later, the hostage read.
He also mentioned the results of France's regional elections on March 21, in a sign that the video must have been recorded since then.
The captive called himself the victim of what he said was Paris's policy of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.
The last announcement on the man's situation came in September, when his kidnappers issued a similar set of demands.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner rejected the demands and pledged support for the troubled government in Mogadishu.
Two French agents were captured by Islamists in Mogadishu last July 14.
One, held by the more political Hezb al-Islam group, escaped the following month.
According to the Shebab, the Frenchmen came to Somalia "to collect intelligence for the French government" in support of foreign "forces of the crusade," an apparent reference to African Union peacekeeping forces currently comprising some 5,000 troops from Uganda and Burundi.
Somalia has been riven by internal unrest for years, with the strongest groups waging a bloody offensive against forces loyal to the transitional government whose control of the lawless capital has been reduced to a few streets.
Date created : 2010-06-10