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Kenyan military spokesperson caught out on twitter over execution photos

Posted by Administrator on January 12, 2012

Kenya’s military spokesman, Major Emmanuel Chirchir has taken responsibility for posting old photographs which allegedly showed the stoning of a Kenyan by al-Shabaab militants in Somalia on Tuesday.

He however insisted that an execution did take place on Tuesday and hinted that another two executions were likely to take place on Friday afternoon.

“I hear you, I take responsibility,” Chirchir wrote on Twitter. “But hey let’s condemn [sic] such acts past, present or future.”

An American journalist exposed that photos posted by the spokesperson on the social site Twitter were actually taken in 2009.

The four graphic photos, which were posted by Chirchir, showed a man buried to his chest in the ground. The photos then show masked men hurling stones at the ma-n, after which they removed his dead body from the ground.

Chirchir stated that the man was a Kenyan from Nairobi, and was stoned to death in the port city of Kismayo in southern Somalia on Tuesday.

“Dead after being stoned… Recruit Kenyan kill them if you differ on opinion,” Chirchir wrote on his Twitter account.

However, Mukhtar Ibrahim, a Somali-American freelance journalist based in Minnesota, revealed that the photos were not taken in Kismayo, Somalia, but were instead taken in 2009 on his Twitter handle. “This photo is simply for propaganda purpose, major,” Ibrahim wrote on Twitter. “This guy was stoned in 2009, not in 2012.”

The story went viral on the social site after Ibrahim posted the comment, and was picked up by major news organisations.

The photo story was actually published by the Britain’s Daily Mail on Dec. 15, 2009, while the photos were attributed to the Associated Press. The group responsible for the stoning was reported as Hizbul Islam and not al-Shabaab, way before the two militant groups merged in December 2010.

The story also reported that the stoning took place in Afgoye, which is 30 kilometres outside the capital Mogadishu, and not Kismayo, which is located over 500 kilometres southwest of the capital.

The story also showed a second man being shot dead by a relative of the man he was convicted of murdering.

“I saw these photos back in 2009, when I was reading the news coverage about the stoning,” Ibrahim told Africa Review from his home in St. Paul, Minnesota “Verify, verify, verify. We shouldn’t be spoon-fed what people in power tell us.”

Though media in Kenya reported on Tuesday that the man in the photo was a “Kenyan spy,” and that he was stoned to death on Tuesday after a militia court found him guilty of spying for the Kenyan army, al-Shabaab denied that any executions were carried out.

Ibrahim asked the group on Twitter whether they “publicly executed an al-Shabaab member yesterday for allegedly spying for the Kenyan army?” to which the group replied: “no executions were carried out in Kismayo.”

The al-Qaida affiliated militant group, al-Shabaab, also responded to Chirchir’s tweets.

“They seem unsophisticated, even in their propaganda campaign. A simple Google search would have saved them such an embarrassment,” al-Shabaab wrote on Twitter.

A war of words has existed between al-Shabaab and Chirchir on the social site since the group joined Twitter in early December. The Kenyan army has been engaged in a fierce battle with the militant group in Somalia since October.

Source: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/World/-/688340/1304182/-/1208bsk/-/

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