Somali rebels claim a second French soldier has died from gunshot wounds after a failed attempt to rescue a French agent.
The al Qaeda-linked militants put up fierce resistance when French forces went into southern Somalia by helicopter under the cover of darkness on Saturday to try to free Denis Allex, held
hostage since 2009.
His fate remains unclear but French authorities say they believe both commandos are dead. Allex was one of two French secret service officers kidnapped by al Shabaab in the capital Mogadishu. His colleague managed to escape after a month
Planning for the raid to free Allex is understood to have begun in December and coincides with the launch of French air strikes on al Qaeda affiliated rebels in Mali but the operations are unconnected.
Al Shabaab wants to impose their strict version of sharia, or Islamic law, across the Horn of Africa state. It is calling on France to end its support for the Somali government and a withdrawal of the 17,600-strong African peacekeeping force progpping up the UN backed administration.