French military operation underway to free hostage in Mali

24th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

French military took further action Saturday to free a 78-year-old hostage being held by an Al-Qaeda affiliated gang in Mali, a foreign military source told AFP in the capital Bamako.

"The French are doing everything to free (Michel) Germaneau," the source said, adding that an "operation is underway" on Mali territory.

Thursday's deadly raid in the Sahara desert, carried out by French-backed Mauritanian forces on a suspected Al-Qaeda base, had just been "a smoke screen", the source said.

"Somewhere else in the vast desert, another (operation) is underway," the source said, adding that forces from other countries in the region were also taking part.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an offshoot of Osama bin Laden's network, is believed to be holding the French aid worker and has been responsible for the murder of a British hostage.

On Friday the United States said that it was not involved in the desert operation that killed six AQIM members, but has been sharing intelligence with both France and Mauritania on extremist networks.

© 2010 AFP

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