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Africa

French hostage killed in Somalia rescue attempt

An attempt by French forces to free an intelligence agent held hostage in Somalia has come to a bloody end. The agent, and a number of civilians, have been killed.

The French military failed in its attempt to free a hostage from an Islamic militant base in Somalia on Saturday; its operation left the hostage, two French commandos, 17 Somali militants and at least two civilians dead.

France's Defense Ministry said that the French hostage, Denis Allex, was killed by his captors during the rescue operation.

Denis Allex was a French intelligence agent, held hostage in Somalia for more than three years. In October, Allex appeared in a video shot by his kidnappers, in which he called on French President Francois Hollande to negotiate his freedom.

"Mr President, I am still alive, but for how long? That depends upon you," he said in the recording.

The revelations followed a series of local reports about the rescue attempt, including from Islamist group al-Shabaab.

An al-Shabaab official, who requested to remain anonymous, attributed to the attacks to French commandos.

"Three helicopters dropped French commandos. We exchanged fire," the official said to Reuters.

sej/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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