French President Hollande confirms beheading of hostage Herve Gourdel in Algeria

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) – French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday confirmed the execution of Frenchman Herve Gourdel, who was held hostage by Algerian militants linked to the Islamist State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that had previously beheaded three Western captives.

“Our compatriot has been murdered cruelly and in a cowardly way by a terrorist group,” Hollande told reporters ahead of his speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York. “Herve Gourdel was killed because he was French.”

“My determination is total and this aggression only strengthens it,” he said. “France will continue to fight terrorists everywhere. The operations against Islamic State (ISIS) will continue. The military air strikes will continue as long as necessary.”

The militants earlier on Wednesday released a video that appeared to show them beheading Gourdel, who was kidnapped on Sunday.

Hollande said France, which has been bombing ISIS targets in Iraq alongside the U.S. military, would not be deterred by the killing of the French hostage.

“The military air operations will continue as long as necessary,” he said. The Caliphate Soldiers, a splinter group linked to Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, had on Monday published a video claiming responsibility for the abduction and showed the man identifying himself as Gourdel.

Gourdel, a French nature guide and photographer, was taken hostage when militants stopped his vehicle in the remote mountains east of Algiers where he planned a hiking trip, according to Algeria’s interior ministry statement.

A senior U.S. administration official in New York also reacted to the reports of Gourdel’s execution.

“If true this would be another horrific action that is an affront to all of humanity,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

“The United States would obviously stand in full solidarity with our French allies.” ISIS militants believed to be based in Syria have posted videos of beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker. They have threatened to kill a second British aid worker

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