Al-Qaeda beheaded French hostage: Mali official
Executed French hostage Michel Germaneau was beheaded by Al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a local official in northern Mali said overnight Sunday.
"Yes, it's true, after the failure of the Franco-Mauritanian raid on Thursday, AQIM executed the French hostage," said the official from the northeastern Kidal region, where Germaneau was reportedly held, asking not to be named.
"The Frenchman was decapitated before the eyes" of the head of the radical AQIM group that was holding him, Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, who last year executed a British hostage, Edwin Dyer, after six months of detention.
AQIM has announced that it executed Germaneau, a 78-year-old aid worker, on Saturday, in revenge for a joint raid last Thursday by Mauritanian and French troops, in which six fundamentalists were killed. Germaneau was seized in Niger on April 19.
"He (Germaneau) was still alive during the raid, but hidden in a mountainous zone in the Kidal region, near the border with Algeria. The place is an impregnable fortress, where the Islamists have laid mines and built shelters to protect themselves from any air attack," the official told AFP.
A local leader from northern Mali, who is involved in all negotiations for the release of hostages in the region and who also asked not to be named, said: "It's certain. To avenge the death of several of their elements, they killed the French hostage. We have just learned this by the usual channels."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed Monday that France would avenge the murder of the elderly aid worker.
"I condemn this barbarous act, this odious act which has put an end to the life of an innocent man who was there to help the local population," the French leader said in a terse televised address.
"Dear compatriots, this crime committed against Michel Germaneau will not go unpunished," he added, warning French nationals to avoid all travel to the arid region running through Mauritania, Mali, Niger and southern Algeria.
© 2010 AFP