France has confirmed that a body found in northern Mali was that of Philippe Verdon, a French geologist who was kidnapped in November 2011 by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
In March, the jihadist group said it had beheaded Verdon in retaliation for France's military intervention in Mali.
The French announcement came a day after French President Françoise Hollande said there was a “very strong chance” that the body, found in Mali, could be that of Verdon, France 24 reported
Verdon and another Frenchman were seized in the central Malian town of Hombori on November 24, 2011.
AQIM is currently holding eight Europeans hostage — including five French nationals.Thierry Dol, Daniel Larribe, Pierre Legrand, and Marc Féret were kidnapped in a mining town in neighboring Niger by al-Qaida-linked militants on September 16, 2010.
Larribe’s wife Françoise was also captured but was released in 2011. The fifth French hostage, Serge Lazarevic, was kidnapped along with Verdon.
In late June, AQIM said that the eight Europeans are alive and that it would soon release a new video of the five Frenchmen.
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