'Barbarians' demand ransom for Frenchwoman's body
France on Thursday denounced as "barbarians" Somali kidnappers who were demanding a ransom for the body of a disabled Frenchwoman who died while in their captivity.
France said Wednesday that 66-year-old Marie Dedieu, who was kidnapped on October 1 and taken to Somalia, had died in the hands of her captors, most probably because they had refused to provide her medication.
Dedieu had been in a wheelchair and was suffering from cancer.
"The hostage-takers are even trying to sell the remains, it could not be more despicable," French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet told the i-TELE news network.
"Seizing a woman of this age, who is sick and paralysed, and not giving her her medication, allowing her to develop septicaemia from which she apparently died, and then proposing to sell her remains! These are not people who deserve anything but contempt," Longuet said.
"Those who committed this unspeakable act are nothing but a gang of barbarians," President Nicolas Sarkozy told AFP during a visit to a waste treatment centre in western France.
"This 66-year-old woman, gravely ill, who had cancer, who was quadriplegic, was kidnapped and not given the medication that she needed," he said.
"Barbarians who act this way, I don't think we can show much weakness towards them."
Longuet said the French military was not planning any action against the kidnappers in Somalia because they were "a small band, a small minority, an exception who dishonour this territory."
A gang of armed men seized Dedieu from Manda Island in Kenya's Lamu archipelago earlier this month and fled by sea to Somalia, fighting off an attempt by Kenya's navy to stop them.
France has demanded the immediate and unconditional return of her remains.
Kenya has blamed Islamist Shebab rebels in Somalia for a spate of recent kidnappings of foreigners and this week launched an unprecedented incursion into Somalia against the militants.
© 2011 AFP