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Two French journalists abducted, slain in Mali

By Pierre Meilhan, CNN
updated 5:48 PM EDT, Sat November 2, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The journalists were abducted after interviewing a rebel, RFI reports
  • French President Francois Hollande calls the killings "despicable"
  • The French Foreign Ministry confirms the deaths
  • The journalists worked for Radio France International

(CNN) -- French radio journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon have been found dead in northern Mali, the French Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

The two Radio France International reporters were kidnapped Saturday morning after conducting interviews with a Tuareg rebel near the northern town of Kidal, a local governor said, according to RFI sister network France Info.

Verlon and Dupont "were abducted by four men aboard a Toyota," Kidal Gov. Adama Kamissoko said while in Bamako, according to France Info.

Kidal was one of the strongholds of the Islamic militant Tuareg uprising last year that plunged Mali into chaos after a military-led coup. Following the coup, the al Qaeda-linked Tuareg rebels occupied the northern half of the country.

Earlier this year, as part of France's intervention to flush out Islamist militants in Mali, the French military secured the area around Kidal, the last major town that was under rebel control in northern Mali.

The two reporters were abducted in front of the home a member of the Tuareg rebels' National Movement of a Liberation of Azawad, RFI reported.

The two journalists could be heard resisting their abduction, according to their driver, who was forced by the gunmen to lay on the ground, RFI said.

French President Francois Hollande condemned the killings, calling them "despicable," according to a statement released by the presidential palace.

The kidnapping and deaths come the same week that four long-held French hostages were released. They had been abducted by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in neighboring Niger and had been held since 2010.

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