Al Qaeda’s wing in North Africa says it has killed a French hostage it was holding in response to a raid by France and Mauritania against the group, said Al Jazeera television.
A leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said in an audio recording that Michel Germaneau was killed on Saturday in revenge for the killing of six group members in the raid, the television said.
Mauritanian troops backed by French special forces launched the cross-border raid against an AQIM base in Mali on Thursday and continued the assault for several days. Mauritanian officials have tried to play down France’s role in the raid.
A French Defence Ministry source said the operation was launched after AQIM failed to provide proof that Germaneau was alive or engage in negotiations over him.
Retired engineer Germaneau, 78, was kidnapped in April and believed to be in the hands of Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, leader of the more hardline of two AQIM factions operating in the Sahara.