French hostage chained, moved locations constantly ahead of failed rescue, official says

France's defense minister says the intelligence agent held hostage for more than three years by Islamic militants in Somalia was chained up, mistreated and constantly moved around by his captors ahead of a failed rescue operation.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Sunday the decision was made to attempt the rescue because the agent, known by his code-name Denis Allex, was finally in a situation that seemed relatively stable. Planning for the operation began about a month ago, Le Drian said.

The overnight operation Saturday ended in the death of a French soldier and the likely deaths of the hostage and a second service member, Le Drian said. The militant Islamist group al-Shabab denies Allex was killed and claims to have a wounded French soldier in custody as well.