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Kenya military spokesman in Twitter war over graphic photos

Major Emmanuel Chirchir posted photos on Twitter of a man being brutally stoned to death in Somalia, but as Chirchir's followers pointed out, the photos aren't at all as he described them.
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Kenya military spokesman Major E. Chirchir posted graphic photos on his Twitter account that he said were of a Kenyan being stoned by Al Shabaab militants in Somalia. (Screengrab)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Kenyan military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir caused a stir when he began tweeting last year about Kenya's invasion of Somalia and the apparent threat of weapons-toting donkeys.

He caused another Twitter storm Wednesday with a series of tweets in which he described the brutal stoning to death of a Kenyan by Somalia's Al Shabaab militants, and posted graphic photos of the incident on Twitpic.

"Dead after being stoned....Recruit Kenyans kill them if you differ on opinion," the major wrote on his official Twitter account, @MajorEChirchir.

The photos are shockingly violent, showing a man being whipped while buried up to his chest in the ground. One of the photos shows the man covered in blood, his body surrounded by large stones.

More from GlobalPost: Kenya's military tweets: don't sell donkeys to militants

Major Chirchir wrote that the man was from Nairobi, and had been stoned to death Tuesday in the Somali city of Kismayo. 

But as some of the major's Twitter followers — and even Al Shabaab — quickly pointed out, the photos are not at all as he described them.

"This photo is simply for propaganda purpose, major. This guy was stoned in 2009, not in 2012," wrote Mukhtar Ibrahim (@mukhtaryare), a journalist from Minnesota.

"He sure knows the power of propaganda. A lot of people already believed him & RTing his photo."

The photos, taken by the Associated Press, were published in the Daily Mail on Dec. 15, 2009.

According to the Daily Mail story, the photos show Islamic militants in Somalia stoning a man to death for adultery. The group responsible is Hizbul Islam, not Al Shabaab, and the stoning took place in Afgoye, not Kismayo. The man is not even Kenyan.

Al Shabaab, also on Twitter (@HSMPress), responded to Chirchir's tweets.

"They seem unsophisticated, even in their propaganda campaign. A simple Google search would have saved them such an embarrassment," the al Qaeda-linked group tweeted.

Major Chirchir finally responded on Thursday to the Twitter photo war. He admitted to having posted old photos, but claimed that a Kenyan man was in fact executed in Kismayo on Tuesday.

"Out of over 300 postings ... you can't write me off over one error. I take responsibility," he tweeted.

More from GlobalPost: Kenya News: State and Shabaab dispute, airstrike or ambush?

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/kenya-military-major-chirchir-twitter-photos-stoning-somalia

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