Al Qaeda warns Hollande against French hostage rescue

NOUAKCHOTT Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:31pm IST

France's President Francois Hollande attends the French non-profit health insurance (Mutualite Francaise) congress in Nice October 20, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

France's President Francois Hollande attends the French non-profit health insurance (Mutualite Francaise) congress in Nice October 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

Related Topics

NOUAKCHOTT (Reuters) - A leader of al Qaeda's north African wing warned France on Saturday that any attempt to forcibly rescue six French citizens held hostage by the militant group could lead to their death.

French President Francois Hollande is pushing hard for military action against al Qaeda-linked militants in Mali to quash what he sees as a growing risk of them launching an attack on French soil, diplomatic sources said earlier this week.

Speaking for the first time since he was made head of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) earlier this month, Yahya Abu Hammam said Hollande had been ratcheting up rhetoric against the group.

"He has promised his people that he will free the hostages without negotiations with the jihadists," Hammam said in an interview published by the Mauritanian news agency ANI.

"I want to send a message to the relatives of the French hostages who are with us: The decision of war that Hollande seemed to have taken means that he has signed for their execution and he must be responsible for his decisions."

Seven workers for French firm Areva were seized in northern Niger in 2010, and three have since been released. Two other French citizens were taken hostage in Mali in November.

Hammam said Hollande was pursuing the same policies as predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy and this could have a dire outcome for the hostages, alluding to Michel Germaneau, executed by the group in July 2010 following a failed rescue operation.

Calls by Paris for speedy intervention have angered AQIM and its affiliates, some of whom warned on October 13 they would "open the doors of hell" for French citizens if Paris keeps up such pressure.

Hammam also warned France against pushing for military action to dislodge al Qaeda and other militant Islamic groups that have occupied the northern half of Mali since April.

Regional leaders and international organisations met in Mali's capital Bamako on Friday to seek a response to the occupation of the north of the country, but failed to resolve differences on how to tackle the growing security threat.

"What France and other Western countries are calling for - the importance of preserving the territorial integrity of Mali - is nothing but a form of political hypocrisy that these countries are known for," Hammam said.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif in Jeddah and Laurent Prieur in Nouakchott; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

TALIBAN ATTACKS

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Hong Kong Protests

Hong Kong Protests

Hong Kong protests approach potential National Day flashpoint.  Full Article 

Seeking Reassurance

Seeking Reassurance

Amid differences, Israel's Netanyahu to seek reassurances from Obama on Iran.  Full Article 

Ebola in U.S.

Ebola in U.S.

Traveler from Liberia is first Ebola patient diagnosed in U.S  Full Article 

Fighting IS

Fighting IS

Australian aircraft to support U.S.-led air strikes in Iraq - PM.  Full Article 

Frustrated PM

Frustrated PM

Turkey, frustrated with West, clings to fading vision for the Middle East.  Full Article 

Indonesia Politics

Indonesia Politics

President manages hopes as hostile parliament convenes  Full Article 

Security Breach

Security Breach

U.S. lawmakers rebuke Secret Service over White House breach  Full Article 

Palestinian Occupation

Palestinian Occupation

Jewish settlers occupy Palestinian homes in Old City's shadow  Full Article 

Ebola Chronology

Ebola Chronology

Worst Ebola outbreak on record tests global response  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage