French commandos launched a raid in Somalia today to free a hostage held since 2009, but it appears to have ended disastrously: The French government says the hostage, identified as Denis Allex, was killed during the raid by his al-Shabab captors, reports AP. The militant group, however, claims that Allex is still alive and now being held at a different location. One French soldier was killed in the fighting, along with 17 Islamists. A second French soldier is missing, and al-Shabab says he, too, is now a hostage.
The raid in east Africa comes after French troops intervened in the west African nation of Mali to fight al-Qaeda-linked militants poised to overtake the government. Fighting there intensified today, reports AP. France isn't saying the two developments are related, but the BBC thinks they must be: "The French government knew well the intervention would have dangerous implications for the nine French hostages being held across northern Africa." (Read more Denis Allex stories.)