Sarkozy calls crisis meeting over hostage killing report

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President Nicolas Sarkozy called a crisis meeting of his defence and security advisers amid reports Sunday that a French hostage held by Al-Qaeda militants in north Africa had been executed.

Sarkozy moved as the head of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said in an audio statement broadcast by Al-Jazeera that his group had killed 78-year-old hostage Michel Germaneau, a French aid worker.

The Elysee said it had received no confirmation of the execution, but Sarkozy had called a meeting of his top advisers handling the crisis for Monday.

The news came after a military operation Thursday in the Sahara in which French and Mauritanian troops tried to rescue Germaneau.

Six members of AQIM, an offshoot of Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, were killed in the raid, but while soldiers found arms and documents there was no evidence that Germaneau had been held there.

© 2010 AFP

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