France has confirmed that a body found earlier this month in Mali is that of French geologist Philippe Verdon, who was kidnapped by al-Qaida-linked militants in late 2011.
In a brief statement, the office of French President Francois Hollande Monday said the remains will be returned to France as soon as possible for tests to determine the cause of death.
French radio said the body was recovered by French troops near the Algerian border.
In March, Mauritania's ANI news agency, which maintains close links with Islamist militants in the region, said it was informed by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb that Verdon was executed March 10.
Verdon was one of two French hostages kidnapped in November 2011 from a hotel in the northern Mali town of Hombori. He was reported to be on a business trip. A colleague, Serge Lazarevic, is thought to be among seven French nationals still being held by Islamist groups in Mali.