Al-Qaeda warns Hollande over hostage

A leader of al Qaeda’s north African wing warned France on Saturday that any attempt to forcibly rescue six French citizens held hostage by the militant group could lead to their death.

French President Francois Hollande is pushing hard for military action against al Qaeda-linked militants in Mali to quash what he sees as a growing risk of them launching an attack on French soil, diplomatic sources said earlier this week.

Speaking for the first time since he was made head of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) earlier this month, Yahya Abu Hammam said Hollande had been ratcheting up rhetoric against the group.

“He has promised his people that he will free the hostages without negotiations with the jihadists,” Hammam said in an interview published by the Mauritanian news agency ANI.
“I want to send a message to the relatives of the French hostages who are with us: The decision of war that Hollande seemed to have taken means that he has signed for their execution and he must be responsible for his decisions.”

Seven workers for French firm Areva were seized in northern Niger in 2010, and three have since been released. Two other French citizens were taken hostage in Mali in November. Hammam said Hollande was pursuing the same policies as his predecessor.

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