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Somali Militants say They Killed French Hostage

Handout photo released Oct. 4, 2012 by the SITE Monitoring Service shows French secret agent Denis Allex held hostage in Somalia urging French President to negotiate his release.
The Somali militant group al-Shabab says it has executed a French hostage who was kidnapped and held for more than three years.

Al-Shabab posted on Twitter Thursday that Denis Allex had been executed a day earlier.

The group released a statement Wednesday declaring its intent to kill the intelligence officer, who was the target of a failed French rescue operation last week. French officials already had presumed the man dead. Al-Shabab said it was killing Allex to avenge what it claims were civilians killed by French forces during the late Friday raid, as well as to protest what it calls France's anti-Muslim policies and the country's military operations in France and Afghanistan.

Allex was kidnapped from a Mogadishu hotel in July 2009. Before then, he was part of a team helping to train Somali government troops to fight al-Shabab.

He was last seen in a video posted online in October, appealing to French President Francois Hollande for help.