Twitter suspended the account of Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents Friday, days after they posted photographs of a French commando they killed and threatened to execute Kenyan hostages.
A message from Twitter on the English-language @HSMPress account read that it had “been suspended”, without elaborating.
However, Somali and Arabic language accounts of the Shebab continue to operate, and the extremists used their Arabic account to denounce the suspension as censorship.
On Wednesday the Shebab used the account to release a link to a video of several Kenyan hostages they said they will execute within three weeks if Nairobi’s government does not release prisoners held on terrorism charges.
Earlier this month they posted graphic photographs of a French soldier killed during a failed bid to release a French agent the Shebab had held for more than three years. They later used Twitter to announce the hostage’s execution.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault denounced the publication of the photographs as a “particularly odious display.”
Twitter warns that accounts can be suspended if they violate its rules, which include the publishing of “direct, specific threats of violence against others”, according to regulations posted on the social media website.
Users are also blocked if they use Twitter “for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities.”
Last year the Shebab used the account — which was opened in December 2011, and most recently had over 20,000 followers — for a series of exchanges with Kenya’s army spokesman, taunting the Kenyans after they invaded southern Somalia to attack the Islamists.
Shebab fighters are on the back foot in Somalia, reeling from a string of losses as they battle a 17,000-strong African Union force as well as Ethiopian troops and Somali forces.