French commando killed trying to rescue hostage from Somali militants in daring helicopter raid
Militant group al-Shabab have held French soldier Denis Allex since 2009French spies stormed house after arriving in five helicoptersOne soldier killed and another was reported missing
Initial reports Mr Allex was shot dead during the raid have been denied by those holding him
, looking gaunt, he sent a video message to new President Francois Hollande, telling how his hopes of a rescue were fading by the day.
He calls on France to drop its 'oppressive attitude' towards Muslims and says Mr Hollande represented his last hope of rescue.
Poignantly, he adds: 'I am alive. But for how long'
However, within minutes of arriving, the commandos were involved in a firefight that saw a soldier killed.
Up to 17 Somalis were killed in scenes reminiscent of the battle of Mogadishu in 1993, which is commonly referred to as Black Hawk Down after a book and film about the incident.
Then, a US army force tried to seize Somali warlords in the city but two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, resulting in the deaths and wounding of 18 Americans, and up to 3,000 Somalis.
Those involved in yesterday’s attack were members of militant Islamist group Al-Shabab, the Somalian representatives of Al Qaeda.
French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said: ‘A French commando was killed and another is missing.’
Despite earlier French claims about Mr Allex being killed, Al-Shabab insisted he was still alive – and had not even been in the village.
In a statement, the group said it had ‘killed several’ French soldiers and that Mr Allex was ‘safe and far from the location of the battle’.
Mr Allex has appeared in propaganda videos since his capture, pleading for his release and for France to change its stance.
French special forces arrived in the village of Bulo Marer, 50 miles from the capital Mogadishu, in the early hours of yesterday
A member of Somalia's Al Shabab militant group (file photo)
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed the failed mission to rescue Denis Allex
The failed raid came just a few hours
after France began a military operation in Mali to assist the government
there against encroaching rebels linked to Al Qaeda.
WHO ARE AL-SHABAB
It was formed as a radical offshoot of the Union of Islamic Courts in 2006.
Affiliated to al-Qaeda, it controls large swathes of south and central Somalia and in 2010 it was responsible for the deaths of 76 people in a double attack in Uganda during 2010 football World Cup.
It is estimated to have 7,000 to 9,000 fighters. al-Shabab means 'The Youth' in Arabic.
A French combat
pilot was killed in the country yesterday.
However, Mr Le Drian insisted that the
Somalia raid was nothing to do with Mali.
This followed fears that Mr
Allex would be executed in an act of revenge.
David Cameron yesterday expressed his
‘deep concern’ about the situation in Mali as Foreign Office sources
confirmed Britain is preparing to back the military action, reportedly
by sending two Army officers.
l Meanwhile, President Francois
Hollande says France will raise its domestic terror threat level in
light of events in Mali and Somalia.
VIDEO Denis Allex pleads with French government to help him escape in July 2012
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