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The French Defence Ministry says a hostage has been killed in Somalia by al Shabaab Islamic militants during a failed attempt by French forces to rescue him.
 
Several people were killed during the operation, including two French soldiers and 17 militants, according to news agencies Reuters and AFP.
 
Somali witnesses in Bula Mareer report that French helicopters attacked a militant base early on Saturday, which led to an exchange of fire.
 
The hostage, a French secret service agent known as Denis Allex, was seized in Mogadishu in 2009.

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