Al Qaeda demands France leave Afghanistan in return for hostagesBy DPA, IANS
Friday, November 19, 2010
CAIRO - A branch of Al Qaeda has called on the French government to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan in return for the safety of five French hostages kidnapped in Niger, in a message broadcast by al-Jazeera.
“If you want the hostages to be safe, then you should quickly withdraw your forces from Afghanistan according to a set timetable that you will announce publicly,” the leader of Al Qaeda’s North African wing said in the message broadcast late Thursday.
Abu Musab Abdel-Wadoud also said that any negotiations over the release of the hostages should be carried out directly with Al Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden, according to al-Jazeera’s website.
Five French nationals and two Africans were kidnapped in Niger in September.
Last month bin Laden reportedly said in an audio tape that France’s “injustice” towards Muslims and a recent ban on face veils were the motivation behind the abduction.
French troops in North Africa are working with local governments to combat militant groups, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the local offshoot of the global terrorist organisation.
AQIM claimed responsibility in July for the killing of Michel Germaneau, a 78-year-old Frenchmen who was being held hostage.