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French hostage Marie Dedieu held in Somalia dies

Updated Wednesday, October 19th 2011 at 00:00 GMT +3

A French woman kidnapped from Kenya by suspected Somali militants earlier this month has died, say French officials.

Diplomats said they were told of Marie Dedieu's death by contacts through whom they had been negotiating her release.

The exact date and circumstances of her death are not known, but her poor health and the fact medication had been withheld had led to fears this "tragic outcome was highly likely", they said.

Dedieu, 66, was one of four Westerners taken from Kenya in October.

Marie Dedieu who was kidnapped from her home on Manda island (PHOTO:REUTERS)

In September, Briton David Tebbutt was killed and his wife Judith abducted from a luxury resort of Kiwayu on the Kenyan coast.

And last month, two female Spanish aid workers were seized from the Dadaab refugee camp near the Kenya-Somalia border.

All three kidnapped women are still missing.

Dedieu, who was a wheelchair-user and had to take regular medication for cancer and heart problems, had lived part-time in Kenya since the 1990s.

She was taken from her beachfront home on the small island of Manda in the Lamu archipelago on 1 October by an armed gang.

Officials confirmed she had been taken by sea to Somalia and that the kidnappers did not take her wheelchair or medication with them.

In a statement, the French foreign ministry said expressed its "indignation at the total lack of humanity and the cruelty shown by the kidnappers of our compatriot".

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