- Al Qaeda’s Africa wing has threaten to kill a French national within 20 days if the Malian government fails to release its four militants from jail.
According to a statement issued by Africa’s Al Qaeda wing in one of the Islamic websites, Intelcenter, the group has given the government 20 days ultimatum to release four of its prisoners to secure the freedom of Pierre Kamatte.
Mr Kamatte was abducted on 25 November by gunmen outside his hotel in the north-eastern Mali town of Menaka, where all the westerners are prohibited from visiting.
Maneka is about 1,500 kilometers north of the capital Bamako in the Sahel region which has been the scene of trafficking and smuggling of all kinds by organised crime groups.
Sources close to the negotiations for the Frenchman's release in Mali said Al Qaeda is also claiming a ransom for Mr Kamatte.
"Let France and Mali be forewarned, that we give 20 days to fulfill our just demand, or the two governments shall be fully responsible for the life of the French hostage," the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said.
AQIM had claimed responsibility for the killing of British hostage Edwin Dyer who was executed in June, six months after being kidnapped in Niger, near the Mali border.
Mr Kamatte a humanitarian worker who had been in Menaka since April was reportedly conducting research into malaria in the province of Gao, when he was abducted.
The French foreign ministry has warned its citizens of the risk of kidnapping in the region and urged those travelling outside of the capital Bamako to be extra vigilant.
Tuareg rebels and AQIM have been active in the area. In recent years, several western nationals have been kidnapped in neighbouring Niger or in Tunisia and brought to northern Mali.
The group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of two UN staffers in December 2008, and the kidnapping of four European tourists a month later. One of the four Europeans, a Briton, was killed by his captors.
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