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A French national held hostage by al-Qaeda's North African wing has been confirmed dead.

Seventy-eight-year-old Michel Germaneau was kidnapped in Niger some three months ago by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

On Sunday, Al Jazeera aired an audio recording by an AQIM leader saying his group had killed Germaneau on Saturday.

He said the killing was in response to a French-led rescue attempt last week that left six al-Qaeda fighters dead.

French officials convened a crisis meeting on Monday to discuss the matter. Shortly after the meeting, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, vowed to avenge the killing.

So is this killing a show of force? And how much of a threat is this al-Qaeda-affiliated armed group becoming?

Inside Story, with presenter Sohail Rahman, discusses with Hugh Roberts, a specialist on North African affairs and author of the book The Battlefield, Algeria 1988-2002, and Mustapha el-Khalfi, an analyst on Islamic Movements at Mohammed Fifth University.

This episode of Inside Story aired from Monday, July 26, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera