PARIS (Reuters) – President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed on Monday that a 78-year-old French hostage held by Al Qaeda’s North African wing was dead and urged French citizens to avoid travel to the Sahel region.
In a live television broadcast, Sarkozy said French commandoes, acting with Mauritanian troops, had tried to rescue Michel Germaneau, a retired engineer kidnapped by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) on April 20 in Niger, but had not found him at a desert camp in Mali when they engaged the group.
“I condemn this barbarous act, this odious act, which has just left an innocent victim,” the president said. “Far from weakening our determination, his death must reinforce it.”
A leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said in an audio recording aired by the Arabic-language satellite news station on Sunday that Germaneau was killed on Saturday in revenge for the killing of six group members in the raid.