Dubai: Al Qaeda`s wing in North Africa said it had killed a French hostage it was holding in response to a raid by France and Mauritania against the group, according to a recording aired on Sunday by Al Jazeera.
A leader of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said in an audio recording aired by the Arabic-language satellite news station that Michel Germaneau was killed on Saturday in revenge for the killing of six group members in the raid.
"(French President Nicolas) Sarkozy was unable to free his compatriot through this failed operation but he definitely opened one of the gates of hell on himself, his people and his nation," said the man, identified as AQIM leader Abu Musab Abdul-Wadud. His voice resembled that of other recordings attributed to Abdul-Wadud.
Sarkozy`s office in Paris said it had no confirmation of the hostage`s death and was checking the report. An official said Sarkozy would hold a meeting on Monday with top security officials including his Prime Minister and interior, foreign and defence ministers, in response to the Al Jazeera report.
Mauritanian troops backed by French special forces launched the cross-border raid against an AQIM base in Mali on Thursday and continued the assault for several days. Mauritanian officials have tried to play down France`s role in the raid.
Retired engineer Germaneau, 78, was kidnapped in April and believed to be in the hands of Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, leader of the more hardline of two AQIM factions operating in the Sahara.
A French Defence Ministry source said the operation was launched after AQIM failed to provide proof Germaneau was alive or negotiate over him. AQIM had set France a deadline of next week to agree to a prisoner swap or it would kill him.