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22/01/2013Islamist militant Belmokhtar's group threatens France: report

The Islamist militant group that staged a deadly hostage crisis at an Algerian gas plant under orders from leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar has threatened to carry out new attacks, especially against France, the weekly Paris Match said late Monday.

The France "of the crusaders and the Zionist Jews will pay for its attacks on Muslims in north Mali, but not alone, its vassals also," said a Belmokhtar spokesman who called himself Joulaybib, according to the magazine.

The Islamists' operation at the In Amenas gas plant was "90 percent successful since we were able to reach a strategic site protected by 800 soldiers with only 40 men", the Islamist leader's spokesman told the magazine.

According to the Algerian government, during the hostage siege, 37 foreigners and one Algerian were killed by 32 hostage-takers, of which 29 were gunned down and three arrested by Algerian forces in the deadly end to the crisis.

Paris Match said the spokesman claimed that his group contacted French authorities for negotiations, which France has denied.

The magazine also said the spokesman claimed France would have handed over the hostage-takers to the Algerian authorities, who the Islamists blame for the final bloodbath.

"I hope that France realises that it is going to have dozens of Mohammed Merahs and Khaled Kelkals," the spokesman said, referring to a self-described Al-Qaeda sympathiser who killed four Jews and three French paratroopers in Toulouse last year, and an extremist responsible for attacks in France in the 1990s.

"The attack at In Amenas is only the beginning," he said, according to the magazine.

Over the past few days, Belmokhtar or his group has threatened to commit new attacks if the French-led war in Mali on Islamists in the north of the country does not stop.



© 2013 AFP


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