27 November 2012

Mali Terrorists Release Hostage Footage

Nouakchott — A Frenchman kidnapped in Mali begs his government to secure his release.

The Frenchman abducted last week by Mali terrorists appeared in a video posted Monday (November 26th) by Mauritanian news website al-Akhbar.

Gilberto Rodriguez Leal, a 61-year-old retiree, was taken November 20th in the Kayes region after entering the country by car from Mauritania.

"We are responsible for the kidnapping of the Frenchman in south-west Mali close to the Mauritanian border," Tawhid and Jihad (MUJAO) spokesman Abu Walid Sahraoui told AFP.

In the new video, Leal said that he had faith that the French government would "achieve a favourable outcome".

"I call on the French government to respond to their demands swiftly. I am not to blame for this kidnapping, it's the government which is to blame because of its overseas activities," Leal said.

The kidnapping of a French national followed the decision by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to send thousands of troops into northern Mali to oust the Islamist occupiers. The French government is spearheading the international support effort.

"We must do everything possible to rescue our citizen. I have already warned all those who may be in the region that they should take all necessary precautions," French President François Hollande said at a November 21st press conference.

"Taking French citizens hostage will not put pressure on Paris", the French head of state added.

Roughly thirty people gathered outside Paris's City Hall on the morning of November 24th to express their support for the French hostages kidnapped in Mali.

Among those who gathered were Jean-Louis Normandin, who was held hostage for two years in Lebanon during the 1980s and Hervé Ghesquière, who was held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan for 18 months.

Ghesquière made a solemn plea "for the faces of all the hostages to appear on television every day, not once a week".

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is holding nine Europeans hostage, including six French nationals kidnapped between September 2010 and November 2011. MUJAO is holding at least three Algerians hostage.

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