French Somalia hostage 'killed'

Somali militants claim a French intelligence officer held captive for three years has been executed. Al Shabbab tweeted that Denis Allex was killed yesterday. A bid to rescue him failed last week. French officials said Allex had died in the attempt.

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French hostage rescue bid in Somalia ends with deaths

France struck against Islamist miliants in Somalia today in a failed bid to rescue a hostage who's believed to have died, along with at least one French soldier.

It comes the same day as the British Government announced it was sending two RAF C-17 planes to support the French military operation against Islamists in the West African Republic of Mali.

ITV News Reporter Sejal Karia has the latest in this report:

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Somali Islamists deny death of French spy

France said today that it believes intelligence officer Denis Allex was killed during "intense combat".

Commandos broke into where Allex was being detained last night and immediately faced strong resistance. Intense combat took place, during which - and now I speak with caution - everything leads us to believe that Denis Allex was unfortunately killed by his captors.

– France's Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian

However, a spokesman for al Shabaab claimed the spy is still alive in a statement.

The injured French soldier is now in the custody of the mujahideen and Allex still remains safe and far from the location of the battle.

– Al Shabaab spokesman

French commandos tried to rescue a secret agent

The intelligence agency's team flew into southern Somalia by helicopter under the cover of darkness to try to free Denis Allex. Credit: ITV News

France sent commandos into Somalia to rescue a secret agent who had been held by insurgents since 2009, but said it believed he had been killed by his captors along with a French soldier during the raid.

The intelligence agency's team flew into southern Somalia by helicopter under the cover of darkness to try to free Denis Allex from the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab, on the same day France launched air strikes against Islamist militants in Mali.

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the operations were not connected, but France has been concerned that other hostages held in Africa would be at risk if they intervened against the al Qaeda-allied fighters on the other side of the continent.

French soldier and hostage dead, second soldier missing

A French soldier has been killed and another is missing in a failed hostage rescue attempt in Somalia, the French government said.

The French national, who was being held in a base belonging to al Shabaab insurgents in a southern Somalian village, also died.

The raid also ended in the deaths of 17 militants.

The rescue attempt was not linked to the Mali intervention, according to Jean-Yves Le Drian, France's defence minister.

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