French hostages plead for freedom in Qaeda video
Al Qaeda's North African arm has released a video apparently showing four French nuclear workers kidnapped last year in North Africa urging France to pull its troops out of Afghanistan.
A copy of the video, distributed by the US-based terrorism watchdog SITE on Tuesday, shows a series of photographs of Pierre Legrand, Daniel Larribe, Thierry Dol and Marc Furrer with armed militants standing behind them.
Over the photos is recorded an audio track that appears to be the men reading a prepared statement, on by one.
"We urge the president of the French republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, to respond positively to Al Qaeda's demand he withdraw French troops from Afghanistan, as the French have really no interest in the war in Afghanistan," they say.
According to the voices, the recordings were made on April 11, 12 and 13.
In September last year gunmen working for Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African wing of Osama bin Laden's global Islamist network, kidnapped seven people from an uranium mining town in northern Niger.
The gang is thought to have taken its hostages to secret camps in the deserts of neighbouring Mali.
In February, three -- a French woman, a Togolese and a Madagascan -- were released, but sources close to the negotiation say that the group has demanded 90 million euros in ransom for the remaining hostages.
Reacting to the video, France's Minister for European Affairs Laurent Wauquiez, told news network BFM-TV that Paris would "not allow its foreign policy to be dictated by kidnappers."
© 2011 AFP