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France confirms hostage held by al-Qaeda militant killed in Mali


08:33, July 16, 2013

PARIS, July 15 (Xinhua) -- President Francois Hollande confirmed Monday French hostage Philippe Verdon, kidnapped by al-Qaeda-linked Islamists in 2011, has been killed.

"The death of our compatriot Mr. Philippe Verdon is formally confirmed," said the French president in a statement released by the Elysee Palace.

Hollande expressed his entire solidarity to the family and loved ones of the victim, vowing to identify those responsible for the death of Verdon and brought them to justice.

"The remains will be transferred as soon as possible to our country and autopsies will reveal the causes of his death," said Hollande.

The French president made pledge to those families "whose loved ones are still being held hostage in the Sahel" that his government continues to "fully mobilize for their release and return to France."

"All government departments are keeping work and no track is ignored or overlooked," the president added.

Earlier on Monday, Hollande revealed that a body was found 10 days ago in northern Mali which is believed to be French hostage Verdon who had been killed by his kidnappers.

He noted that "additional checks" were underway, including a DNA analysis to authenticate the remains.

Verdon was kidnapped at the night of November 24, 2011, together with Serge Lazarevic. They were taking a business trip for a cement project, but were abducted from their hotel in Hombori.

In March, a self-claimed AQIM spokesman informed Mauritanian news agency ANI that Verdon had been executed in response to France's military intervention in Mali.

At the beginning of 2013, French army has been engaged in a military operation in support of the Malian army against armed Islamist groups, including AQIM, which occupied the northern Mali.

So far, five French people have been taken hostage in the Sahel region.

In a traditional National Day TV interview on Sunday, Hollande reiterated the government's determination to liberate the remaining nationals still in hands of Islamists cells in the Sahel region.

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