A French hostage held in Mali has been executed by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Mauritania's ANI news agency reports.
The agency attributed the information to an AQIM spokesman.
Six other French hostages are still being held in Mali.
French and allied forces, including Malian and Chadian troops, have made significant inroads in recent weeks combating Islamist extremist fighters.
Islamist extremists carved out a large haven in northern Mali last year, taking advantage of a chaotic situation after a military coup by the separatist party MNLA. The militants banned music, smoking, drinking and watching sports on television. They also destroyed historic tombs and shrines.
French involvement in the conflict began on January 11, the day after militants said they had seized the city of Konna, east of Diabaly in central Mali, and were poised to advance south toward Bamako, the capital.FULL STORY