Islamists militants in Somalia killed the French solider Denis Allex during a French commando raid to rescue him, the French Defense Ministry said Saturday.
The failed rescue operation also led to the death of two French commando and 17 Somalian militants. The Islamist militant outfit al-Shabaab kidnapped Allex in the Somalian capital Mogadishu in 2009 along with a colleague, who was freed a month after.
However, al-Shabaab has claimed that the hostage is still alive. The fighting between French commandos, who were dropped off using helicopters, took place in the town of Bulomarer.
France's bid to rescue Allex is seen linked to the country's military intervention in another African nation Mali. Islamists control most of northern Mali. The country was a French colony until 1960.
On Friday, France launched airstrikes to halt an advance by Islamist militants to the government-held south. French forces have reportedly arrived in the capital Bamako and air strikes have continued into Saturday.
French President Francois Hollande stressed that France would act only under UN authorization. He was responding to a plea made earlier by Malian President Dioncounda Traore to the UN and France for assistance in countering a recent rebel advance.
by RTT Staff Writer
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