G8 nations condemn murder of French hostages

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Foreign ministers from the G8 group of the world's most powerful industrialised economies on Wednesday condemned the "kidnap and cowardly murder" of two French visitors to Niger.

In the first statement issued by France on behalf of the group since taking on its rotating presidency, the ministers vowed to "intensify their efforts to end the odious practice of hostage-taking."

Two 25-year-old Frenchmen, Vincent Delory et Antoine de Leocour, died on Saturday during an attempt by French troops on the Niger-Mali border to rescue them from a gang of kidnappers.

France says the pair seems to have been executed by the gang after special forces parachuted into the desert to intercept the convoy, and Paris blames the Islamist group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

© 2011 AFP

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