News / Africa

Al-Qaida: Hostages in N. Africa Alive, Open to Talks

TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Eight hostages, including five from France, being held by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are safe, the Islamist group said in a statement posted on its Twitter account on Saturday.

The statement coincided with rallies across France organized by the families of French hostages who were seized in Niger in September 2010 to mark more than 1,000 days of captivity.

French newspapers reported this week that the hostages had been transferred to Algeria and were in the hands of AQIM's new chief, Yahia Abou el Hamam. The French government declined to comment on the report.

“We would like to assure the family and relatives of the hostages of the safety of their children,” said the message, posted by AQIM's Andalus Media arm.

The message repeated previous statements by AQIM that it would kill the hostages if there were any new French military intervention in North Africa, but said it remained open to negotiations to free them.

“Although we are nearing three years holding the hostages, we are open to negotiations. Our demands were clear and legitimate. But they were rejected,” the statement said.

The French government has said it does not negotiate with hostage takers.

AQIM said it would soon release a video of the five French hostages and three others.

At least eight French citizens, a Swede, a Dutchman and a South African have been kidnapped in recent years in parts of the Sahara desert.

One Frenchman, kidnapped in Nigeria, close to the border with Niger, is believed to be being held by either AQIM or an affiliated group. Another was kidnapped last year in Mali, near the Mauritanian border, but Saturday's statement did not appear to refer to either of these.

AQIM did confirm in the statement that one French hostage,  Philippe Verdon, who was kidnapped in Hombori in northern Mali in November 2011, had been killed in March in response to the French military intervention in the north of Mali.

The hostages referred to in the AQIM statement were previously thought to have been held in northern Mali before the French-led campaign in January drove out the militants who had seized control of the region after a Tuareg separatist uprising and a military coup in the capital Bamako.

French President Francois Hollande justified the military intervention in Mali partly by saying it would prevent northern Mali being used as a launch pad for Islamist attacks in Africa and in the West.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid