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Somali Rebels Say Second French Soldier Died After Failed Rescue Attempt

Somali rebel group al-Shabab says a second French soldier has died after a failed attempt by France to rescue one of its citizens held hostage in Somalia.

An al-Shabab spokesman said Monday the soldier died from wounds suffered in the fighting to free military agent Denis Allex. The spokesman repeated the group's claim that Allex is still alive.

The rebel group posted photos of one of the killed French commandoes to its Twitter account.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday officials still believe Allex was killed by his al-Shabab captors. He says one French soldier was killed in the rescue attempt late Friday and another is missing and presumed dead. "As concerns Somalia, I confirm what I have already said: everything leads us to believe that the hostage has been murdered and that the other soldier who is missing has been killed," he said. "Everything leads us to believe, unfortunately, that the Shabab are about to organize a macabre and obscene show."

Seventeen Somali fighters were also killed during the raid.

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States provided "limited technical support" to the operation.

In a letter to congressional leaders released by the White House Sunday, Mr. Obama says U.S. combat planes briefly entered Somali airspace, but that U.S. forces and aircraft took no direct part in the raid.

Militants kidnapped Allex from his Mogadishu hotel in July, 2009. Another Frenchman was also captured. He either escaped or was set free one month later. The two were in Somalia to train government troops fighting al-Shabab.

Allex was last seen in a videotape in October.