Latest update: 13/01/2011
- al Qaeda - kidnapping - Niger
Al Qaeda branch claims kidnapping of Frenchmen killed in Niger
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of two Frenchmen (pictured) found dead after a failed rescue attempt by French forces in Niger last week, according to an e-mail sent to Reuters Thursday.
REUTERS - Al Qaeda claimed responsibility on Thursday for the abduction of two Frenchmen found dead after a failed rescue attempt in Niger last week, but did not say how the men died.
"A group of mujahideen carried out on Friday, Jan 7, a brave operation in the heart of the Niger capital Niamey, where they broke into the secured diplomatic neighbourhood and succeeded in kidnapping two Frenchmen," the group said in a sound recording e-mailed to Reuters. The recording was dated Jan. 12.
The bodies were found charred, with their hands tied behind their backs, according to two hospital sources in Niger who saw them after the failed rescue attempt on Saturday.
Salah Abu Mohammed, who identified himself as a media official for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), said in the recording that the two were killed when French and Niger forces attempted to rescue them, but gave no more details.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Monday he was almost certain that al Qaeda was behind the kidnapping of the aid worker and his visiting friend.
Abu Mohammed said the French government did not "learn from past failures and repeated the same folly where two battles took place between the mujahideen and French-Niger forces, resulting in a major failure in the attempt to rescue the hostages".
He said the abduction came "in the context of responding to France's repressive policies against Muslims and its participation in the crusade in Afghanistan". French troops serve in the NATO-led force fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
AQIM, which operates across West and North Africa's vast Sahara desert, is holding another five French citizens, employees of French firms Areva and Vinci taken from the northern mining town of Arlit in September.
AQIM also killed French tourist Michel Germaneau in July after kidnapping him in Niger three months earlier.