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Frenchman's captors 'Qaeda-linked'

21 December 2012, 14:03

Paris - Gunmen who abducted a Frenchman in northern Nigeria probably have links to al-Qaeda's north African group or to Islamist groups in northern Mali, French President Francois Hollande said on Friday.

"He was captured by a heavily armed group which killed two Nigerians and is probably linked to Aqim [al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] or the groups which are today in Mali," he told a French radio station.

"We have to be firm when it comes to terrorism while at the same time maintaining contacts to free" French nationals, he told Europe 1 radio.

On Thursday, a group of about 30 gunmen stormed a residence in the northern Nigerian state of Katsina where expatriate workers were staying. They kidnapped a French engineer, killing a security guard and a neighbour.

His employer, French company Vergnet said the man was a contractor working for the firm, which specialises in alternative energy and has a wind power project in Katsina.

Islamists of the Boko Haram group are fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, though Katsina has been spared its attacks.

Katsina state has a border with Niger and to the west of Niger lies northern Mali, where a group of hardline Islamists seized control earlier this year.

Aqim, which is also active in the region, is holding several French hostages snatched in this part of Africa.Paris - Gunmen who abducted a Frenchman in northern Nigeria probably have links to al-Qaeda's north African group or to Islamist groups in northern Mali, French President Francois Hollande said on Friday.

"He was captured by a heavily armed group which killed two Nigerians and is probably linked to Aqim [al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] or the groups which are today in Mali," he told a French radio station.

"We have to be firm when it comes to terrorism while at the same time maintaining contacts to free" French nationals, he told Europe 1 radio.

On Thursday, a group of about 30 gunmen stormed a residence in the northern Nigerian state of Katsina where expatriate workers were staying. They kidnapped a French engineer, killing a security guard and a neighbour.

His employer, French company Vergnet said the man was a contractor working for the firm, which specialises in alternative energy and has a wind power project in Katsina.

Islamists of the Boko Haram group are fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, though Katsina has been spared its attacks.

Katsina state has a border with Niger and to the west of Niger lies northern Mali, where a group of hardline Islamists seized control earlier this year.

Aqim, which is also active in the region, is holding several French hostages snatched in this part of Africa.

- SAPA

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