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Islamists claim French botch hostage rescue in Somalia

12 january 2013, 19:56
0
Somali Islamists claimed Saturday that a French commando unit had botched an attempt overnight to free a hostage in southern Somalia, leaving several dead, AFP reports.

"Mujahedeen fighters defeated the so-called commandos of the French government who tried to rescue a hostage, and they (the commandos) left the bodies of several of their own at the site of the attack," Sheikh Mohamed Abdallah, a local military commander, told AFP.

French authorities could not be reached for comment.

Abdallah is the commander of Bulomarer, where the raid allegedly took place.

"We don't know exactly what happened because the attack took place at night, but this morning we saw several corpses including that of a white man," said a Bulomarer resident, Idris Youssouf.

"Three civilians were also killed in the gunfight," he told AFP.

A French secret agent named as Denis Allex was kidnapped in Somalia in July 2009 along with a colleague who was freed the following month.

Four military helicopters were used in the raid on a house in Shebab-controlled Bulomarer, some 110 kilometres (70 miles) south of the Somali capital Mogadishu, witnesses said.

The Shebab lost their main strongholds in the south and centre of the country following an offensive launched in mid-2011 by an African Union force, but they still control some rural areas.

Allex is among nine French hostages in Africa of whom at least six are held by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

He appeared in a video in June 2010 appealing to Paris to drop its support for the Somali government.

He last appeared in another video in October looking gaunt and calling on French President Francois Hollande to work for his release.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991. However, a new administration took office last year, ending eight years of transitional rule by a corruption-riddled government.

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