Kidnappers threaten to kill French aid workers, demand talks with Paris
A group claiming to have kidnapped three French aid workers has threatened to kill them unless French authorities agree to direct negotiations on French policy in the region, specifically in Chad and Sudan.
REUTERS - A group purporting to have kidnapped three French aid workers from Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) threatened to kill them unless the French authorities began negotiations, a spokesman said on Monday.
"We will kill the hostages if France does not negotiate with us directly. One by one, and we will film it," Mohamed al-Rizeigi, who said he was the spokesman for a group called the African Free Eagles, told Reuters.
He did not give a deadline for the threat.
One of the hostages, who was kidnapped earlier this month while working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Chad, spoke to Reuters.
"I am fine, my name is Laurent Maurice," he said in French, adding he worked for the ICRC.
Two other hostages who work for French-based aid agency Triangle were taken in a separate attack in CAR this month and were being held separately from Maurice, Rizeigi said.
Rizeigi said his group was composed of young African men disgusted with French policy in the continent and who wanted Paris to work in the interests of the African people.
France should use its influence in Africa to push the Darfur rebel leader residing in Paris, Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur, to attend Sudanese peace talks. It should also force Chadian President Idriss Deby and opposition leaders to talk.
"We will be targeting French interests all over Africa," he said. "We have young people in Somalia...Nigeria and Eritrea calling us with their support."
Rizeigi said his group was not holding Gauthier Lefevre, a dual French-British ICRC worker kidnapped last month from Darfur.
"We have no problem with the ICRC, we are targeting France," he said, speaking in an Arabic dialect common to Sudan and Chad.
Darfur, Sudan's restive region bordering Chad and CAR, has seen a wave of kidnappings of foreign aid workers since March, when the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant accusing Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of war crimes.
Those kidnappers have all asked for ransom.