PARIS, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) announced that a French hostage kidnapped in Northern Mali had been executed "in response" to France's military intervention in Mali, French BFMTV reported Wednesday.
The information was released by a man named "Al-Qairawani" who claimed himself as a spokesman for AQIM. He informed the private Mauritanian news agency Nouakchott Info (ANI) the death of the hostage on Tuesday evening, the French channel said.
According to the AQIM spokesman, French hostage Philippe Verdon, who was described as a "spy", was executed "on March 10 in response to the intervention of France in the north of Mali."
Verdon was kidnapped at the night of Nov. 24, 2011, together with Serge Lazarevic. They were taking a business trip for a cement project, but were abducted from their hotel in Hombori, BFM TV report said, citing their families.
However, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot has not confirmed this information, saying "we check, we do not know any more for the moment."
The Elysee Palace has not yet confirmed the death of the hostage.
The French army has been engaged since Jan. 11 in a military operation in support of the Malian army against armed Islamist groups, including AQIM, which occupied the northern Mali since last year.
The French government mulls a withdrawal of its troop by handing over the mission to UN peacekeepers in upcoming months.
So far, 15 French people have been taken hostage in the Sahel region.