Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

'New York Post' slammed for publishing ISIS execution images

Read more

DEBATE

Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza: Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza conflict: 72-hour ceasefire deal sets stage for Cairo talks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

FOCUS

Spain's El Hierro to become world's first self-powered island

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bellwether for what not to do

Read more

ENCORE!

Luc Besson back in action with Scarlett Johansson in 'Lucy'

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • US attorney general visits Missouri town after fatal shooting

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Netanyahu compares Hamas to IS, Gaza offensive to continue

    Read more

  • France’s ex-PM Juppé sets up presidential clash with Sarkozy

    Read more

  • France’s Hollande says global security ‘worst since 2001’

    Read more

  • France urges Iran, others in region, to join fight against IS

    Read more

  • A new view on Normandy landings, 70 years on

    Read more

  • Dozens killed as landslides strike Japan’s Hiroshima

    Read more

  • Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

    Read more

  • WWII anniversary highlights best - and worst - of Paris police

    Read more

  • Headscarf at the beach sparks French MEP’s fury

    Read more

  • Video: Life in under-siege Donetsk

    Read more

  • Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

    Read more

Africa

French hostages mark one year in captivity

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-09-16

Seven people were kidnapped in Niger on September 16, 2010 by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. As the four remaining French hostages mark their first anniversary in captivity, unrest in neighbouring Libya complicates negotiations for their release.

AFP - Four Frenchmen held by Al Qaeda's North African franchise on Friday marked a year since their capture, with negotiations for their release complicated by the fallout of the Libyan chaos.

On September 16 last year, seven people were snatched by the radical group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Arlit, a uranium mining town in northern Niger.

Among them was a senior employee with the French mining group Areva and his wife. The other five, employed by an Areva subcontractor, included three Frenchmen as well as a Togolese and a Malagasy.

On February 24, the woman and the two Africans were released at a desert spot close to where the borders of Niger, Mali and Algeria meet.

However Daniel Larribe, Thierry Dole, Marc Feret and Pierre Legrand are still being held by AQIM and their families are demanding more tangible efforts to secure their release.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, whose country is also affected by the activities of the Al Qaeda-affiliated group, said earlier this week he thought the hostages were still alive.

"All state agencies have been mobilised since the very first day and are doing everything they can for our compatriots to recover their freedom," the French foreign ministry said Thursday.

"We're in contact with the kidnappers, physically, by phone and through intermediaries," one mediator told AFP recently.

Some sources even predict the hostages could be freed soon.

AQIM does not appear to have modified its demands since it released a video of the hostages "begging" Nicolas Sarkozy to pull his troops out of Afghanistan, something the French president promptly ruled out.

However, France has since announced its intention to withdraw around a quarter of its forces by the end of 2012, a decision believed to have been welcomed by AQIM.

Another of the hostage-takers' demands is the payment of a staggering 90 million euros (125 million dollars), whch Paris has also officially rejected.

The situation is fluid in Niger, where two other French nationals were kidnapped in the capital Niamey earlier this year before being executed in Mali.

Areva's expatriate contingent, which had been sent home after last year's kidnapping, however returned to Arlit in July after France and Niger agreed to beef up security.

The new element affecting regional security is the change of regime in Libya, where Western-backed rebels toppled Moamer Kadhafi.

Neighbouring countries and security experts have expressed fears that chaos in Libya would scatter Kadhafi's arsenal across the region and eventually give AQIM access to new and more sophisticated weapons.

"We used to focus mainly on AQIM, now we have to watch everything at the same time," a Nigerian army officer stationed in the north explained.
 

Date created : 2011-09-16

  • NIGER

    Al Qaeda affiliate claims kidnapping of seven foreigners in Niger

    Read more

  • NIGER

    Niger govt blames Areva over kidnapped French workers

    Read more

  • NIGER

    French troops land in Niger amid row over Areva security

    Read more

COMMENT(S)