A Mauritania based website has a post that claims a branch of the North African al-Qaeda has killed one of the French hostages it kidnapped. The execution is allegedly in retaliation for the military aid that France is giving the country of Mali.
A French Foreign Ministry official located in Paris said his government knew about the post on the website and was currently investigating the matter. The hostage’s father said no one had given him any type of information that would confirm that his son had been executed.
The website Nouakchott Information Agency had posted the information regarding the alleged execution on Tuesday. The ANI site is where members of different chapters of al-Qaeda post different messages. It was not possible to verify that the claim was legitimate and that the French hostage had in fact been executed.
Authorities said that 15 people at this time are being held by members of al-Qaeda and amongst those 15 is a family of seven that includes four children. Authorities said the family of seven had been captured in Cameroon in February.
A military campaign was launched by the French in January to help the embattled government of Mali to rid its country of Islamist militants who were taking control of large land areas in northern Mali. That campaign has caused great worries amongst family and friends of the hostages that the militants would retaliate against their captives.
The French hostage who is alleged to have been executed is Philippe Verdon. He and another man of French descent were taken hostage in Hombori in November of 2011. The two had been in the area to see if they could establish a cement factory.