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France: No Military Rescue for Hostages in Niger

Edouard Guillaud (file photo)
Edouard Guillaud (file photo)

A French official said Friday France has no immediate plans to use military action to rescue five French nationals abducted by al-Qaida forces in North Africa. A French aid worker was executed by the same group in July after France launched a failed rescue mission to retrieve him.

Edouard Guillaud, the head of the armed forces in France, said Friday a military intervention to save the hostages is not in the cards at the moment.

Seven hostages were kidnapped in northern Niger last week. Five are French nationals and the other two are from Togo and Madagascar.

The militant group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb has taken responsibility for the attack.

Speaking on French radio, Guillard said France is right now assessing the situation and that military forces are present to support diplomacy.

France has sent a military intelligence unit to the region but has said it wants to open communication with the militant group. On Thursday, a French Minister called for the militants to put their release demands on the table.

Guillard said Friday the lives of the hostages don't appear to be in immediate danger, but he added a military intervention is possible if the situation escalates.

The militant group, which is known by the acronym AQIM, has used jihadist forums to warn France against launching a military campaign to rescue the hostages.

In July a joint French and Mauritanian operation tried to rescue a 78-year-old French aid worker who had been kidnapped by AQIM. Seven militants were killed in the operation but AQIM later executed the frenchman.