MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A raid to free a French intelligence agent held captive in Somalia for three years has gone horribly wrong, leaving 17 Islamists and at least one French commando dead in a farming town deep in militant territory.
The hostage's fate is unclear. The Islamists deny French claims that the agent, code-named Denis Allex, was killed and say they have a new prisoner -- a wounded French soldier.
The French defense minister says Allex was killed by his captors and that one French soldier was missing and one dead, along with 17 Islamists. The Defense Ministry earlier said two commandos were killed in the fighting in the Somali town, which has been under Islamist control for four years.
Allex was kidnapped from a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, on July 14, 2009 with a colleague who later escaped. They were in Somalia to train government forces, which are fighting Islamist militiamen.