EU condemns killing of French hostages in Niger

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The European Union is committed to helping Niger and its neighbours combat extremism following the killing of two young French hostages, EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton said Monday.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Monday he was "almost certain" an Al-Qaeda-linked group was behind the kidnapping of the two Frenchmen, who were murdered "in cold blood", he added.

In Brussels, Ashton said the EU "firmly condemned this odious act" and sent its condolences to the men's families as well as to those of the Niger troops killed in a bid to rescue the captives.

She also reiterated the bloc's "firm willingness" to pursue its efforts to held Niger and other countries in the region to combat extremisn and violence.

"To this end the EU is working on a global strategy to respond to problems of security and development and to eliminate the threat of terrorism that is a serious brake to development and economic growth" of the counries concerned, she said in a statement.

© 2011 AFP

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