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French President Nicolas Sarkozy has confirmed that a French hostage was killed by al-Qaida’s branch in North Africa.

President Sarkozy said Monday during a television broadcast he condemned the “barbarous act” against Michel Germaneau, a French aid worker.

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In an audio message broadcast Sunday on the Arabic network Al-Jazeera, a man identified as the leader of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb said Germaneau was killed in retaliation for the death of six al-Qaida members during a raid last week in Mali.

The al-Qaida leader said Mr. Sarkozy was unable to free Germaneau through a “failed” military operation.

Mr. Sarkozy also urged French citizens to avoid traveling to Africa’s Sahel region. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb has carried out numerous attacks and kidnappings across the Sahara and Sahel regions.

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