NEW: French foreign ministry says everything's being done to gain release of hostages
Mauritania's ANI news agency attributes the information to an AQIM spokesman
Hostage was killed in response to French intervention in Mali, he reportedly says
A French hostage held in Mali has been executed by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Mauritania’s ANI news agency reported late Tuesday.
The agency attributed the information to an AQIM spokesman.
Six other French hostages are still being held in Mali, ANI said.
The spokesman reportedly told the agency that the March 10 execution was in response to France’s military intervention in Mali, and that French President Francois Hollande “is responsible for the lives of the rest of the hostages.”
Before the ANI report on Tuesday, the French foreign ministry released a statement quoting Hollande as saying there are no “financial discussions” ongoing to gain the release of French hostages in various countries.
The ministry said it is in constant contact with the families of those being held, and that everything is being done to gain the release of French hostages.
French involvement in the Malian conflict began on January 11, the day after militants said they had seized the city of Konna, east of Diabaly in central Mali, and were poised to advance south toward Bamako, the capital.
Islamist extremists carved out a large haven in northern Mali last year, taking advantage of a chaotic situation after a military coup by the separatist party MNLA. The militants banned music, smoking, drinking and watching sports on television. They also destroyed historic tombs and shrines.
CNN’s Yousuf Basil and Pierre Meilhan contributed to this report.