A dramatic attempt to rescue a French secret serviceman held hostage for more three years by Somali militants ended in tragedy and confusion last night.
Helicopter-borne commandoes launched a raid on a hideout in a remote Somali bush village to free the agent from the clutches of al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda-linked Somali militant group.Continue reading.
But in the “intense” firefight that followed, one French soldier was shot dead and a second ended up missing in action, while the hostage himself was also thought to have been killed.
Last night, however, al-Shabaab claimed that it had abducted the soldier from the scene and was now holding him as well as the original hostage, who it said had been held in a different location all along.
The botched mission unfolded as the French military suffered separate casualties in their operation against al Qaeda militants on the side of Africa in Mali, which was launched late on Friday. The pilot of a French helicopter gunship was killed yesterday morning after being apparently shot down while strafing a column of Islamist fighters in the north of the desert state.
While the French government insisted the Somali mission was unconnected to the Mali one, it was widely speculated that the effort to free the hostage was prompted by fears that his captors might kill him in revenge for the operation against their fellow militants in Mali.
Also from the DEBKA File, "France terror alert after Mali, Somali operations. Al Qaeda threatens hostages."
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