Al-Qaeda group will make demands to France over hostages: TV
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which claimed responsibility for the abduction of French citizens in Niger, said it will make demands to France regarding them, Al-Jazeera television reported on Tuesday.
"In announcing our claim for this operation, we inform the French government that the mujahedeen will later transmit their legitimate demands," AQIM spokesman Salah Abi Mohammed said in an audio tape played by Al-Jazeera.
"We also warn (the French government) against any sort of stupidity," he added, in reference to any possible military operation.
Earlier, Al-Jazeera said "Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the abduction of five French citizens in Niger a few days ago."
The French, including a married couple, are among seven people kidnapped on Thursday. All seven work for French companies involved in uranium mining in the Arlit region of northern Niger.
The other two victims are from Togo and Madagascar.
The Niger government said on Tuesday the kidnappers were "affiliated" to AQIM.
"We have not received any claims of responsibility but we have analysed the information that has reached us. We have also analysed the evidence that we have collected," government spokesman Laouali Dan Dahhe said.
"Based on this evidence, we are in a position to say that the group which undertook this unacceptable kidnapping is a group affiliated to the group of (Abdelhamid) Abou Zeid who is himself linked with ... Al Qaeda," he said.
Zeid is AQIM'S leader in northern Mali.
French military planes were scouring the West African desert on Tuesday in an effort to locate the seven.
© 2010 AFP