Published : 2013-09-17 17:17
Updated : 2013-09-17 17:17
DAKAR (AFP) ― Al-Qaida’s north African branch has released a video purporting to show seven kidnapped Westerners, the Mauritanian news agency ANI reported on Monday, footage France’s foreign ministry deemed “credible.”
The hostages are four Frenchmen kidnapped from a uranium compound in northern Niger exactly three years ago along with a Dutchman, a Swede and a South African who were abducted from Timbuktu in northern Mali in November 2011.
“Based on an initial analysis, the video seems credible to us and provides new proof of life of the four French hostages kidnapped in Arlit (northern Niger) on Sept. 16, 2010,” foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said, adding that the footage was being authenticated.
In the video, released to the Mauritanian news agency ANI, Frenchman Daniel Larribe introduces himself as the head of the French group and says he was kidnapped by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
ANI reported on its website that he was speaking on June 27 and said he was in good health.
The video includes statements from Arribe’s compatriots Pierre Legrand, Thierry Dol and Marc Feret as well as South African Stephen Malcolm, Dutchman Sjaak Rijke and Swede Johan Gustafsson. “Of course we react positively every time we see that they are alive and in relatively good health,” said Legrand’s grandfather Rene Robert.
AQIM is currently thought to be holding eight Europeans hostage, including five French nationals.
Philippe Verdon, who was kidnapped in Mali in 2011 and found dead earlier this year, was executed with a shot to the head, according to French prosecutors.
Dol, Larribe, Legrand and Feret ― mostly working for French public nuclear giant Areva and its subcontractor Satom ― were kidnapped on Sept. 16, 2010.
Daniel’s wife Francoise Larribe was also captured but was released in 2011.