Thursday 22 February 2018

Al Qaeda releases hostage video as Macron attends Mali anti-jihad meeting

Al Qaeda releases hostage video as Macron attends Mali anti-jihad meeting
(RFI(EN) 07/04/17)

Al Qaeda's branch in Mali has released a video of six foreign hostages, including French naitonal Sophie Pétronin, just before a visit by France's President Emmanuel Macron to finalise the establishment of a Sahel anti-jihadi force with the leaders of five Afican countries.

The undated video by Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, also known as the Group to Support Islam and Muslims, was released on Telegram on Saturday, US-based monitoring group SITE said.

It featured Pétronin, the head of an NGO that works with children, who was abducted by armed men in Gao, northern Mali, in December 2016 and says she hopes Macron will help her return to her family.

The other hostages are:

Australian surgeon Arthur Kenneth Elliott, 82, who was kidnapped along with his wife, Jocelyn, in Burkina Faso in January 2015, Jocelyn being released in February 2016:

South African Stephen McGowan, kidnapped in northern Mali in November 2011;

Romanian mining engineer Iulian Ghergut kidnapped in Burkina Faso in 2015;

Swiss missionary Béatrice Stockly, kidnapped in Mali in January 2016;

Colombian nun Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argoti kidnapped in Malinin February 2017.

At the end of the video the narrator tells the hostages' families "no genuine negotiations have begun" for their release but then adds that discussions are "still active".

Macron addresses G5 meeting

Macron arrived in Bamako overnight for a meeting with the leaders of the G5 countries - Chad's Idriss Déby, Mauritania's Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz, Burkina Faso's Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and Niger's Mahamadou Issoufou (Niger) - to discuss the military force they will set up to fight jihadism, smuggling and people trafficking in the Sahel region.

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