December 21, 2012
PARIS, France (AFP)
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 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 around 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.