President Fran├žois Hollande called a meeting of France's top defence committee Wednesday morning after Al-Qaeda's north African branch (Aqim) claimed that it has killed a French hostage captured in Mali.

As the French defence ministry sought to confirm Aqim's claim that it killed Philippe Verdon on 10 March, Hollande summoned military and intelligence chiefs and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Foreign Affairs

Minister Laurent Fabius and Interior Minister Manuel Valls to a crisis meeting.