The French President, Francois Hollande, has said that he won’t negotiate with Al-Qaeda for the release of four French nationals kidnapped by the group in 2010 in Africa. The statement follows accusations broadcast by online news agency Sahara Medias that France is blocking negotiations for their release.
Abdel Hamid Abu Zeid, speaking for AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) said in a video: “The end of negotiations, the total dead end, is France’s fault. We are here to negotiate. That’s what we already told France, a year ago.”
But Mr Hollande said that the kidnappers were not trustworthy or credible: “It isn’t for the abductors to tell us what to do. Or how to negotiate. The best way to get our nationals out of the hands of those who have kidnapped them is to say as little as possible and not to enter into any sort of debate.”
But the mother of Pierre Legrand, one of the abducted men, still hopes for his release: “We try to stay positive because we tell ourselves that from the moment that there is contact there is the chance of discussion and that makes us hope for a happy ending”.
In total there are currently nine French citizens being held hostage by Islamist groups in Africa.
Eight in sub-Saharan Africa and one in Somalia. The French president has called for their immediate release, and has announced a meeting in Paris to review their fate.