The Paris prosecutor has confirmed the identity of the prime suspect in the killing of two French radio journalists in Mali last week as a militant with ties to al-Qaida's north Africa branch.

Francois Molins said an "intense" manhunt was underway for Baye Ag Bakabo, known to authorities as a low-level drug trafficker from the Tuareg ethnic group who had ties to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. He was one of four men believed to be involved in the Nov. 2 kidnapping and killing of correspondent Ghislaine Dupont and technician Claude Verlon of Radio France Internationale.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Molins also denied accounts in Malian media saying the journalists had had their throats slit. He said they were each shot multiple times, and no knife was used.