Second French commando dies of wounds: Somali rebels

Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:10am EST
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By Feisal Omar

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A second French commando has died from wounds suffered during a failed attempt to rescue a French agent in Somalia held hostage by al Shabaab since 2009, the al Qaeda-affiliated militant group said on Monday.

Al Shabaab said the French commando had died in their custody and posted photos of what it said was his body on the Internet, according to the SITE monitoring service.

The insurgent group also said it had made a decision on the fate of hostage Denis Allex and that a message conveying its verdict would be forthcoming. France says it believes Allex was killed during the rescue operation.

The militants put up fierce resistance when French special forces went into southern Somalia by helicopter under the cover of darkness on Saturday to try to free Allex.

There was some confusion over the exact outcome of the mission, with the French government saying at one point that one commando had died and the other gone missing, and later saying that both appeared to be dead.

"The second commando died from his bullet wounds. We shall display the bodies of the two Frenchmen," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, spokesman for al Shabaab's military operations, told Reuters by telephone.

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters on Monday it seemed that both commandos were killed in the raid and France was braced for some kind of gory video message by al Shabaab.

"Everything leads us to think that the hostage was assassinated and the other disappeared soldier has been killed," he said. A ministry source said earlier the government believed both commandos were dead, but it did not have the bodies.   Continued...