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France vows: Mali hostage death will not 'go unpunished'

“We found a body 10 days ago in northern Mali… we will determine the cause of death and nothing will go unpunished,” French president Francois Hollande said.

French president Francois Hollande
French president Francois Hollande
Image: AP Photo/Francois Mori/Pool

FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS Hollande has said today that there is a “very strong” chance that a body found in northern Mali is that of a French hostage and vowed the killing would not go unpunished.

Philippe Verdon, who was kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) from a hotel while on business in northeastern Mali in November 2011, was already believed to be dead.

His captors announced in March that the 53-year-old had been executed in response to France’s military intervention in Mali.

“We found a body 10 days ago in northern Mali, we are doing everything possible to confirm that this could be, alas, the body of Philippe Verdon,” Hollande said at Mali’s embassy to Paris, where he was awarded the highest rank in the country’s National Order.

“We will then determine the cause of death and nothing will go unpunished,” Hollande said.

AQIM is currently holding hostage eight Europeans, including five French nationals.

French forces intervened in Mali in January to help the weak Malian military drive out Islamist rebels who had seized control of the country’s north.

- © AFP, 2013

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