France insists Niger holding Qaeda suspects
France insisted Wednesday that Niger was questioning two captured Al-Qaeda suspects over the kidnapping and killing of two Frenchmen, despite Niamey saying they were holding no such militants.
"We are holding no living terrorist that we are questioning," an advisor to Interior Minister Ousmane Cisse had told AFP, asking not to be named.
Cisse earlier told France's RFI radio that French forces involved in an attack on the kidnappers of the Frenchmen from a Niamey restaurant on Friday brought six bodies and two wounded members of the Niger security forces back to the capital.
"No terrorists are currently being questioned by our services," Cisse said. "French authorities gave us no living terrorists."
"If French authorities have the intention of handing over possible living terrorists, our competent services are ready to receive them."
The French defence ministry said Wednesday it stuck by what Defence Minister Alain Juppe said on Tuesday, that "two wounded kidnappers have been handed over to the Niger authorities who will carry out the investigation."
On Tuesday, two French lawmakers briefed by Prime Minister Francois Fillon said that the premier told them that "four terrorists" were killed, and two others wounded, captured and brought back to Niamey.
A Niger security source also said that two suspected members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had been captured and were being questioned after abortive rescue bids mounted by French and Niger forces.
"At least two alleged AQIM fighters were captured and brought back safe and sound to Niamey where they are being interrogated," the source had said.
© 2011 AFP