Somali militants linked to al Qaeda have said they have executed a French agent who French armed forces attempted to rescue last weekend. The French military said they believe the hostage was already dead.
The al Shabaab rebel group said on its Twitter account Thursday that Denis Allex (pictured above), a hostage held since 2009, had been killed Wednesday evening Somali time.
"Let Muslims enjoy his execution and the French cry," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's spokesman for military operations, told the Reuters news agency by telephone.
French officials had said they believe Allex, a French intelligence agent was killed during a raid late last Friday and early Saturday. Two French soldiers and 17 Somalis died during the failed rescue attempt, officials said.
Al Shabaab said Wednesday they had "reached a unanimous decision to execute" their hostage in order to avenge "the dozens of Muslims senselessly killed by the French forces during the operation."
Witnesses said eight civilians died during the failed rescue mission.
The group also cited: "France's increasing persecution of Muslims around the world, its oppressive anti-Islam policies at home, French military operations in … Afghanistan and, most recently, Mali," as reasons.
The French army responded to Wednesday's comments by accusing the Shebab of "manipulating the media" and reaffirming their belief that Allex was likely already dead.
dr/rc (AFP, Reuters, AP)