The Mujao, one of the Islamist groups occupying northern Mali, on Thursday claimed responsibility for the Tuesday kidnapping of 61-year old Gilberto Rodriguez Leal, who was born in Portugal but is a French citizen, Radio France Internationale reported.
Mujao spokesman Abu Walid Sahraoui, told journalists that the group would post a video of the hostage shortly.
Foreign minister Laurent Fabius said Friday that the French government had intelligence that Leal was still alive.
"The search is continuing. Mali is in contact with its neighbors, especially Mauritania where the kidnappers could take the hostage before returning him to northern Mali," said a regional security official, who did not wish to be named.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]