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Algerian Extremists Kill French Hostage


A French hostage has been killed in Algeria by a group claiming to be working with the so-called Islamic State or ISIS. The French hostage was captured on Sunday, and he was killed after French warplanes struck ISIS targets in Iraq.


The Algerian group says the killing is retribution. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports from Paris.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Speaking at the United Nations General assembly in New York a solemn President Francois Hollande said a 55-year-old father, son and mountain guide had been brutally murdered.


PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE: (Through translator) His name was Herve Gourdel. He was an enthusiastic man who loved to mountain climb. He thought he could live out his passion on a trip to the mountains of northern Algeria, but he was captured and beheaded. This is what terrorism does.

BEARDSLEY: French jets destroyed an ammunitions depot north of Baghdad on Friday, almost immediately ISIS issued a statement calling on its followers to find and kill French people along with Americans. Two days later came the news that a French citizen had been captured in northern Algeria, in an area where terrorist groups that once fought the Algerian government are known to hide.


ABU BAKR AL-BAGHDADI: (Speaking Arabic).

BEARDSLEY: The group, calling itself the Caliphate Soldiers, released a video. It opened with a clip of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.


HERVE GOURDEL: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: And then showed Herve Gourdel sitting between two masked men holding Kalashnikovs. He introduces himself and calmly asks the President Hollande to stop his bombing campaign against ISIS. The group gave France 24 hours to comply before they said they'd kill Gourdel. Defense expert Pierre Servant says the group was trying to shock the world as leaders gathered for the United Nations General Assembly. He says they also wanted to show ISIS they were a worthy ally.

PIERRE SERVANT: (Through translator) All these little terror groups want to get in with ISIS. So they're saying, hey watch what we can do. We learned this through you and we can do the same thing.


HOLLANDE: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: Hollande said today's assassination has put France to the test, but France he said would never capitulate to barbarism and instead would step up its campaign against ISIS. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.