France rejects Al Qaeda demands over hostages

Friday, November 19, 2010

CAIRO/PARIS - French officials said Friday they would not have policies dictated to them by terrorists after a branch of Al Qaeda called on the government in Paris to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan in return for the safety of five French hostages.

The Al Qaeda message was delivered in a message broadcast by Al Jazeera late Thursday. The hostages in question were kidnapped in Niger.

“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.

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.

But French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie responded negatively, saying France would not let its foreign policy be dictated by anyone.

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 for the killing in July of Michel Germaneau, a 78-year-old Frenchmen who was being held hostage.

Filed under: Terrorism

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