France's prime minister says al-Qaida's North Africa branch may have executed a French hostage in the Sahara before a failed raid to free him.
Francois Fillon says France is "at war against al-Qaida" and defended what he called a last-ditch effort to free hostage Michel Germaneau last week.
The terrorist group's North African offshoot said Sunday that it had killed Germaneau in retaliation for a raid by Mauritanian and French forces that killed six al-Qaida militants, The Associated Press reports.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has confirmed that a French hostage held by al-Qaeda militants in the Sahara has been killed.
In a statement, Sarkozy condemned the murder of 78-year-old retired engineer Michel Germaneau as a "barbarous and disgusting act," euronews reports.