Al Qaeda Claims It Killed French Hostage In North Africa

CAIRO – Al Qaeda in North Africa has said it killed a French hostage, in a message carried by the Al-Jazeera satellite channel overnight Monday.

The execution of Michel Germaneau was said to be in response to a raid last week by French and Mauritanian troops which targeted the radical group and killed six members of al-Qaeda’s North African branch.

“We confirm that we have killed the hostage Germaneau in revenge for our six brothers who were killed in the treacherous operation,” an audio message from the group said.

Al-Jazeera said the voice on the tape was that of Abu Musab Abdul-Wadud, the head of what is known as Al-Qaeda in the Magreb.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy had “definitely opened… the gates of hell on himself, his people and his nation,” the audio message said.

The French defence ministry, in confirming the raid last week, noted that the terrorist network last year executed a British hostage, Edwin Dwyer, though Paris denied that the military operation was intended to free its citizen.

Germaneau was kidnapped in northern Niger in April, when he was working with an aid group in the impoverished Sahel region.