French hostages in Mali: a timeline

27th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Key events in the crisis over hostages taken by an Islamic extremist group in west Africa's arid Sahel region:

- September 16, 2010: Seven people working for French firms - five French nationals, a Togolese and a Madagascan - are abducted from Arlit in northern Niger, the centre of a big uranium mining operation.

- September 20: The Niger government confirms reports that the hostages have been taken across the border into Mali.

- September 21: A group identifying itself as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claims the kidnappings.

- September 30: The group posts on the Internet a photo of the seven hostages along with an audio recording.

- November 19: AQIM demands that France pull its forces out of Afghanistan as a condition for the hostages' release, and that it negotiate directly with Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. France refuses.

- February 24, 2011: A French woman, the Togolese and Madagascan are freed on Niger's territory, leaving four male French hostages in captivity.

- April 27: AQIM releases a video apparently showing the four remaining hostages. The group again urges France to pull its troops out of Afghanistan.

© 2011 AFP

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