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Website in Mauritania says French hostage killed

Tuesday - 3/19/2013, 9:51pm  ET

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) -- A Mauritanian-based website says that al-Qaida's North African branch has executed a French hostage in retaliation for France's military intervention in northern Mali.

The Noukachott Information Agency, or ANI, posted the report late Tuesday. The ANI website is frequently used by al-Qaida's North African chapter to post messages. It was not possible to independently verify the execution claim.

ANI quoted a man who identified himself as Ghairawani , a spokesman for al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, as saying the group's fighters had executed a French hostage, Philippe Verdon, on March 10. Verdon was kidnapped with another Frenchman from their hotel room in eastern Mali in November 2011.

French troops launched a campaign in January to help the country's embattled government drive Islamic militants out of northern Mali.

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