Mali militants say French hostage Gilberto Rodrigues Leal 'is dead'

Image of Gilberto Rodrigues Leal in November 2012 released by Mauritanian news website Alakhbar and provided by Mujao. This image of Gilberto Rodrigues Leal was provided by Mujao shortly after his kidnap

Islamist militants in Mali say a French hostage who has been held captive since 2012 is dead.

The group, linked to al-Qaeda, told the French AFP news agency that Gilberto Rodrigues Leal "is dead, because France is our enemy".

So far there has been no official confirmation of the 62-year-old's death.

Last week, French troops in Mali freed five aid workers kidnapped in the north of the country in February.

The report of Mr Rodrigues Leal's death came in a brief phone call from Yoro Abdoul Salam, a spokesman for the Mujao Islamist militant group, AFP said.

He gave no details on the date or circumstances and when asked for evidence, he said "in the name of Allah, he is dead" before hanging up.

The office of French President Francois Hollande said Mr Rodrigues Leal probably died several weeks ago because of abusive treatment by his captors.

A statement said France would "do all to uncover the truth... and will not leave this unpunished".

The French foreign ministry said that the statement from Mujao "responsible for his kidnapping, leads us unfortunately to believe today that Mr Rodrigues Leal is probably dead, even though no material proof can allow us to confirm it".

On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had said he was "extremely worried" about Mr Rodrigues Leal.

"We haven't had any news for a long time. We are in contact with the family but we are extremely worried," he said.

Mr Rodrigues Leal was kidnapped in November 2012 by armed men near the western town of Kayes as he was driving a camper van from Mauritania.

Mali descended into chaos two years ago when a Tuareg rebellion in the north triggered a military coup.

This allowed Islamist militants to take over territory which they held for nearly a year until French and West African forces intervened.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories


Features & Analysis

  • A resin model of a sculpture illustrating the WW1 Christmas Truce football matchChristmas truce

    How France has forgotten the WW1 enemies who shook hands

  • Woman thinkingWho? What? Why?

    The questions of 2014, answered succinctly

  • Banda Aceh in 2004 and 2014Then and now

    Images of transformation 10 years on from the Indian Ocean tsunami

  • JACK O'Connell Big break

    Why Jack O'Connell is the talk of Hollywood

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Barn collectionFind of the century

    BBC Autos takes a look at the rusting car collection worth millions - discovered in a French barn


  • (File photo) A mother polar bear and two cubssThe Travel Show Watch

    From polar bear watching to crocodile conservation - highlights from 2014

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.