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Somali Islamist insurgents return to Twitter

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Somalia's Al-Qaeda linked Shebab insurgents have returned to Twitter with a new account, less than two weeks since they were suspended after posting photographs of a French commando they had killed. 

Al Qaeda-linked Shebab militants on patrol in southern Mogadishu’s Bakara market on June 29, 2009. Somalia's Al-Qaeda linked Shebab insurgents have returned to Twitter with a new account, less than two weeks since they were suspended after posting photographs of a French commando they had killed.

"For what it’s worth, shooting the messenger and suppressing the truth by silencing your opponents isn’t quite the way to win the war of ideas," read one of the messages on the new account, which opened late Sunday.

Shebab officials on Monday confirmed that the account, @HSMPRESS1, was genuine.

Their previous English-language account was suspended last month, days after posting grim photographs of a French soldier, and after threatening to execute Kenyan hostages.

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 its website.

Users are also blocked if they use Twitter "for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities".

The Shebab used their old account -- which had more than 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.

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