Nouakchott — Al Qaeda's wing in north Africa said it had beheaded a French hostage in retaliation for France's intervention in Mali, Mauritania's ANI news agency reported on Tuesday, citing a spokesman for the group.
In what ANI reported was a telephone call to the agency, which has close links to Islamist militants, the commander said Philippe Verdon had been beheaded on March 10 "in response to the French military intervention in the north of Mali," ANI reported.
The death, if proved true, would be a worrying development for Paris, which still has some 14 hostages held in West Africa, including seven in the Sahel by AQIM and its affiliates.
Verdon, a French geologist, was captured in the northern Mali town of Hombori in November 2011. A French foreign ministry spokesman said he had no information on the report.
The AQIM spokesman, who identified himself only as Qayrawani, described Verdon as a French spy, adding that Hollande "bore the responsibility for the remaining hostages."