Failed Rescue Attempt Leaves French Hostage Dead in Somalia

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. Photo:

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. Photo:

Early on Saturday January 12, a mission to rescue French hostage Denis Allex resulted in the prisoner’s death by his captors in Somalia. The failed rescue attempt, carried out at the same time as an unrelated French mission in Mali, also resulted in the deaths of two French soldiers and 17 Islamist militants belonging to the al-Shabaab group that had held Allex captive since July 14, 2009.

Denis Allex was a pseudonym used by the French secret service agent, who was captured in Mogadishu in 2009 along with another agent, who escaped the following month.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said this morning “everything suggests” that Allex was “shot down by his prison guards.” A spokesperson for the al-Shabaab militant group, however, assured that he was “alive” and would be “judged in two days.”

The rescue attempt was carried out by the French D.S.G.E (General Directorate for External Security) in the form of an nighttime helicopter raid on the town of Bulo Marer in the early hours of January 12. Allex was an agent of the DSGE, the same group that attempted his rescue.

According to Phillippe Hugon, African Specialist and Director of Research at Iris (Institute of International and Strategic Relations), Denix Allex was sent to Somalia as a DSGE agent disguised as a journalist in order to assist the Somalian police in fighting against the Somalian Islamists.

Allex was held under extremely difficult conditions for the past three years, and Hugon asserts that such a risky operation was the “last resort,” attempted only after three years of negotiations failed to bring about his release.


  1. […] began, news reached Paris of former French secret service agent and hostage Denis Allex believed to be shot dead in Somalia by his captors during a French rescue attempt. At least seven more French hostages are held in the […]

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