Nouakchott — Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) released a video of seven kidnapped Westerners, ANI reported on Monday (September 16th).
The Mauritanian news agency received the video three years to the day after French nationals Pierre Legrand, Thiery Dol, Marc Feret and Daniel Larribe were abducted in northern Niger.
"Based on an initial analysis, the video seems credible to us and provides new proof of life," AFP quoted French Foreign Ministry Spokesman Philippe Lalliot as saying on Monday.
The AQIM video also shows the Briton, Swede and Dutchman abducted from a Timbuktu restaurant in November 2011. A German national died during the Mali kidnappings.
"With the release of this video recording, AQIM wants to work on public opinion and force the hands of the governments concerned in the hope of bringing in ransom payments," analyst Daha Ould Sidi Ali said.
"These would allow it to re-launch its terrorist activities, which have been scaled back considerably for some time," he added.
According to ANI, the hostages appeared "visibly in good health, their beards trimmed, wearing Touareg kaftans, appealing to their respective peoples and governments to negotiate their release".
In the video, the captives state that they are speaking on June 27th, 2013.
Daniel Larribe, 61, one of the four French hostages, is the first to speak, saying: "I'm in good health, but being threatened with death."
In a September 15th televised interview, French President François Hollande sought to reassure the hostages' families: "I can tell them that we're doing everything we can to go and find them."
AQIM "is counting on the action, influence and pressure brought to bear by these families, alongside the sensitivity of the Swedes and the Dutch on humanitarian issues", Journal Tahalil director and terrorism expert Isselmou Ould Moustapha said.
"It is an embarrassing message to the French government: that its intervention managed to free northern Mali, but did not secure the release of its own nationals," the journalist said.
"This video is proof that AQIM itself is still alive, following the debacle with its brigades, the low profile kept by its leader in Mali, Abou El Hammam, and the deaths of its main leaders Abou Zeid and Abdallah al-Chinguetti, at a time when its dissidents in El Moulethemounes and the MUJAO have joined under the Mourabitounes and supplanting it on the ground," Ould Moustapha added.
Al-Qaeda "is still a threat that cannot be ignored," security analyst Sidati Ould Cheikh agreed, so long as it "holds a large number of Western hostages".
"This is possibly the last chance it has," he added.