Nairobi - Somalia's Shabaab insurgents claim to have
executed a captured Kenyan soldier and repeated threats to kill five other
hostages, the extremists said on Friday.
"While the mujahedeen have executed the serving KDF [Kenya
Defence Force] soldier, there is still a chance of securing the release of the
remaining five prisoners," the Shabaab said in a statement.
The claims could not be verified.
Last month the al-Qaeda-linked insurgents issued a February
14 deadline ordering Kenya - whose troops are fighting the Shabaab inside
Somalia - to release "all Muslim prisoners held on so-called terrorism
charges in Kenya".
The Shabaab, who have previously released videos of Kenyan
civil servants they have kidnapped, have said they would execute five hostages
within three days unless the Kenyan government buckles to their demands.
Kenya has been hit by a spate of attacks including hand
grenade and bombs since it invaded southern Somalia in late 2011 to attack Shabaab
bases, following a string of kidnappings inside Kenya blamed on the Islamists.
Many of the attacks in Kenya - including hand grenade blasts
in the capital Nairobi - are blamed on Shabaab supporters or Kenyan sympathisers,
although the Shabaab have not claimed the attacks themselves.
But the once powerful Shabaab are on the back foot inside
Somalia, having fled a string of key towns ahead of a 17 000-strong African
Union force - which includes Kenyan troops - which is also fighting alongside
Ethiopian troops are also battling the Shabaab in the
southwest of Somalia.
On Thursday, AU troops and government forces seized the
towns of Janalle, Aw Dhigle and Barire, some 80km southwest of the capital
Mogadishu, the latest Shabaab bases to fall.
However, the Shabaab remain a potent threat, still
controlling rural areas as well as carrying out guerrilla attacks in areas
apparently under government control.