Sarkozy's 'burning concern' for Niger hostage

12th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

President Nicolas Sarkozy voiced what he called his "burning concern" on Monday over the imminent fate of an elderly Frenchman held hostage in Niger by an Al-Qaeda offshoot.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) captured 78-year-old Michel Germaneau in northern Niger on April 22 and on Sunday released a message threatening to kill him, according to the US SITE monitoring agency.

AQIM, which in a previous message demanded a prisoner exchange, said France faced a 15-day deadline starting from Monday.

Sarkozy said in a television interview that he was worried about two journalists kidnapped in Afghanistan but that he had a "much more burning concern about another compatriot held in the Sahel region."

"That's the truth," he added.

French journalists Herve Ghesquiere and Stephane Taponier, a reporter and cameraman for the France 3 network, were kidnapped last December with their translator, a fixer and a driver on a road in eastern Afghanistan.

© 2010 AFP

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