Somali Islamists deny death of French spy hostage as commando is killed in botched raid
A French commando raid in Somalia to free a captive intelligence agent ended in the deaths of 17 Islamists and a French soldier. France said the hostage also died in the failed rescue, but the man's captors denied he had been killed and claimed today to have seized a second soldier.
Confusion surrounded early reports of the botched rescue of the French agent, known by his code-name Denis Allex. He was captured in the east African country on July 14, 2009, and last seen in a video released in October pleading for the French president to help him.
But it was clear that a dangerous raid the French defence minister said was planned with the utmost of care had gone horribly wrong.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Allex was killed by his captors and that one French soldier was missing and one dead, along with 17 Islamists. The Defence Ministry earlier said two commandos were killed in the fighting in the Somali town of Bulomarer.
"It was an extremely dangerous mission," Le Drian said. "Everything indicates Denis Allex was killed."
The militant Islamist group al-Shabab, which held Allex for more than three years, said today that he remained alive and in its custody, as was a new captive — a French commando wounded in fighting.
Le Drian said the operation in Somalia was unrelated to the French offensive overnight in Mali to drive back Islamist militants in the west African country. There are seven French hostages in Mali.
Residents of Bulomarer described hearing explosions and gunfire from what they called an al-Shabab base. An al-Shabab official said that fighting began after helicopters dropped off French soldiers.
"Five helicopters attacked a house in the town. They dropped soldiers off on 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 media.
The French attack was swift and loud, 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 telephone. "We don't know exactly what happened, but the place was an al-Shabab base and checkpoint."
The al-Shabab official said some soldiers were killed, but the group held only one dead French soldier. Later, the Islamist group released a statement saying that Allex "remains safe and far from the location of the battle." It said there would be a verdict in his case in two days.
Allex was kidnapped from a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, on July 14, 2009 with a colleague who later escaped. They were in Somalia to train government forces, which are fighting Islamist militiamen.
In October, French President Francois Hollande pledged to "use all means" to contact "anyone who can help free our hostages."
In 2009, a Frenchman held hostage by pirates off the Somali coast was killed in the crossfire during a commando rescue on his captive sailboat. The man's family was rescued.
And in 2011, two French hostages kidnapped in Niger were killed by their captors as French troops closed in for a rescue.
Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again
Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood
The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 35,000 walrus gather on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 5 Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
Jennifer Lawrence nude photos leak: More celebrities allegedly targeted as third wave of hacked images released
Cheryl Cole named 'the most dangerous celebrity' on the internet
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Former Tory donor Arron Banks ups his Ukip donation to £1million following William Hague 'nobody' comment
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission, 1st yr OTE £30-£40k : SThree:...
£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: My client are looking fo...
£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Domino ...