January 13, 2013
French President Francois Hollande placed the country on high domestic terror alert Saturday, Jan. 12. lest al Qaeda retaliate for French operations against two of its Africa wings: a failed mission to rescue a French hostage from the Somali Shabaab rebels and air and commando aid to the Mali government’s drive against advancing Islamists. He made the announcement after a special war cabinet session in Paris.
DEBKAfile reported earlier Saturday.
French special forces failed early Saturday, Jan. 12, to rescue a hostage from the hands of the Qaeda-linked Somali Shabaab, while a second French air and commando force continued operations in support of the Mali government‘s drive to arrest an Islamist advance.
In Paris, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denied a connection between the two French counter-terror operations taking place in the last 48 hours in East and West Africa – both against wings of al Qaeda. He reported a French soldier was killed in Somalia, another was missing and the fate of the hostage held for three years by Shabaab was unknown. Seventeen Islamist fighters were reported killed. In Mali, a French pilot was killed when his helicopter was shot down near the key northern city of Konna.
Saturday, President Francois Hollande called his war cabinet into an unusual emergency session after the first direct French interventions in the fight against Islamist terrorism went awry and confronted him with his first military crisis.