France revises security measures after Qaeda threat
France is updating security measures after "murderers" from Al-Qaeda's North Africa branch called for revenge after a deadly Sahara raid last month, the foreign ministry said Tuesday.
"The plan, as much for our resident or visiting compatriots as well as for our diplomats, is active and constantly updated according to an assessment of risks and threats," said ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.
He branded Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) "murderers" after the group called for revenge for a deadly French-Mauritanian raid and labelled French President Nicolas Sarkozy an "enemy of God."
"To the enemy of God, Sarkozy, I say: 'You have missed your opportunity and opened the gates of trouble on your country'," AQIM leader Abu Anas al-Shanqiti said in a statement posted on jihadist forums.
Seven AQIM members were killed in a failed Mauritanian-French raid in Mali on July 22 that aimed to rescue French hostage Michel Germaneau.
Germaneau was not freed in the raid, and AQIM said it executed the 78-year-old on July 24 in revenge for the deaths of its members.
Shanqiti called on tribesmen whose relatives were killed in the raid to "retaliate against the apostate traitors, the sons and agents of Christian France."
Valero said Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner visited Mauritania, Mali and Niger in July and sought assurances from the authorities as well as from French diplomats and civilians that security measures were in place.
In France itself, authorities have revised the national anti-terror plan known as "Vigipirate" for the summer because of the "increased Islamist threat," the office of Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Monday.
Police said unspecified changes were made "given the increased Islamist threat to French nationals and interests abroad in the southern Sahel and on the Arabian peninsula, and given that the level of this threat remains high in France."
© 2010 AFP