AQIM chief ties French captives' fate to Afghan pullout
The chief of the Al-Qaeda offshoot in North Africa has given a warning to France to pull its troops out of Afghanistan in exchange for the safe return of five French held hostages by them.
Abdelmalek Droukdel, who is the chief in question, in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), published the threat in a speech that was broadcast by Al-Jazeera Arabic Television on Thursday.
Droukdel added that any discussions about the hostages would be overseen personally by the Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden, who apparently justified the reasons of the abductions as being a reprisal for the ban on the wearing the Islamic veil in public places in France.
Droukdel warned if France wanted the safety of the hostages then they have to act quickly and withdraw their soldiers from Afghanistan.
The five French hostages are part of the seven people who were seized by the extremist group in a Niger uranium-mining town overnight on 15-16th September. The other two are a Togolese and a Madagascan.
Intelligence agents of the concerned countries are of the belief that they have been held hostage in an area of the Sahara desert in the neighboring country of Mali.