RFI journalists Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont have been killed after they were kidnapped in the northern town of Kidal in Mali.
Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont were abducted after interviewing a local political leader. Their bodies were found outside the town soon after.
French President Francois Hollande called the killings “despicable”.
The killings come days after France was celebrating the release of four hostages from neighboring Niger.
Radio France Internationale (RFI) said Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont were on their second assignment in Kidal, having travelled to the town in July to cover the first round of the presidential election.
Ambeiry Ag Rhissa, a local official of the MNLA ethnic Tuareg separatist group, said Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont had just finished interviewing him when they were kidnapped outside his house.
“When they left, I heard a strange noise outside,” he told Reuters news agency by telephone.
“I immediately went out to see and when I opened my door, a turbaned man pointed a gun at me and told me go back inside.”
Sources said four men forced the journalists into a beige truck which was then driven off into the surrounding desert.
One report said the kidnappers’ vehicle was being pursued by the security forces, possibly including the French army. A French attack helicopter was seen above Kidal a few hours after the abduction occurred.
The bodies of the two journalists were found some 8 miles outside Kidal, sources said.
Confirming their deaths, the French foreign ministry said it would “in conjunction with the Malian authorities, make every effort to find out as soon as possible about the circumstances of their death”.
A statement from President Francois Hollande’s office said he “expresses his indignation over this despicable act”, adding that he is meeting ministers on Sunday to discuss the incident.
Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont’s deaths bring to 42 the number of journalists around the world killed so far in 2013.