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Captors kill hostage in Somalia during French raid

The hostage, known as Denis Allex, had been captured in 2009.

 Caracal helicopter with French commandos (file photo).
Caracal helicopter with French commandos (file photo).
Image: Bob Edme/AP/Press Association Images

THE FRENCH DEFENCE Ministry says the captors of a French military agent killed him during a French commando raid in Somalia. The ministry says 17 Islamists and two French commandos are also believed to have died in the fighting.

General Martin Klotz, a spokesman for the ministry, declined to provide details of the overnight operation aimed at rescuing fellow DGSE spy service agent Denis Allex – the code-name for the agent who had been held hostage in Somalia since 2009.

Allex was kidnapped from a hotel in Mogadishu on 14 July, 2009 with a colleague who later escaped. They were in Somalia to train government forces, which are fighting Islamist militiamen when they were captured by the militant Islamist group al-Shabab.

The raid occurred in the town of Bulomarer, and comes on the heels of French military intervention in Mali to help the country against al-Qaida-linked militants.

An al-Shabab official had earlier confirmed that fighting began after helicopters dropped off soldiers.

“Five helicopters attacked a house in the town. They dropped soldiers off the ground, so that they could reach their destination… but fighting has broken out,” he said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

“We had Mujahideen fighters already deployed there who fought back the French soldiers,” he said.

The attack was swift and loud, local residents said.

“We heard a series of explosions followed by gunfire just seconds after a helicopter flew over the town,” Mohamed Ali, a resident of Bulomarer, told The Associated Press by phone.

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