BBC News | 26 July 2010 | 10:22 GMT
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has confirmed the death of a French hostage killed by suspected al-Qaeda militants in north-west Africa. Mr Sarkozy condemned the killing of 78-year-old Michel Germaneau as "odious", saying it would not go unpunished. The leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had earlier said Mr Germaneau was killed in revenge for a failed rescue raid. France said last week it gave logistical support for a raid in Mali.
"I condemn this barbarous act, this odious act, which has claimed an innocent victim who devoted his time to helping local people," Mr Sarkozy said. He also urged French people not to travel to the Sahel region that includes parts of Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Mr Germaneau, a retired engineer, was kidnapped in Niger in April. AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdel said in a statement broadcast by al-Jazeera that Mr Germaneau had been killed in revenge for a raid in which six militants died.
In a statement issued following Thursday’s raid, the French defence ministry said al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb had "refused to give a proof of life or engage in negotiations to release our compatriot Michel Germaneau". France had provided logistical and technical support to Mauritanian forces carrying out a raid in Mali, it said. It also said the operation "was able to neutralise the group of terrorists and to prevent the planned attack against Mauritanian targets".