French hostage in Mali ‘beheaded’, claim Al-Qaeda
Al-QAEDA’S wing in north Africa claims to have beheaded a French hostage in retaliation for France’s intervention in Mali, Mauritania’s ANI news agency reported.
In what ANI reported was a telephone call to the agency, an al-Qaeda commander said Philippe Verdon had been beheaded on 10 March “in response to the French military intervention in the north of Mali”.
If the report is true, the death would be a worrying development for Paris which has some 14 hostages being held in West Africa, including seven in the Sahel by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and its affiliates.
French president Francois Hollande in part justified military action in Mali to prevent the north from being used as a launch pad for terror attacks in Africa and in the West.
Mr Verdon, a French geologist, was captured in the Malian town of Hombori in November 2011.
The AQIM spokesman described Mr Verdon as a French spy, adding that Mr Hollande “bore the responsibility for the remaining hostages”.
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