France says Niger hostage video credible
France’s foreign ministry says a video purporting to show hostages including four Frenchmen, released to the Mauritanian news agency ANI, appears "credible".
The video was apparently made by Al-Qaeda’s north African branch, Aqim.
It shows the four Frenchmen kidnapped from a uranium compound in northern Niger three years ago as well as a Dutchman, a Swede and a South African who were abducted from Timbuktu in northern Mali in November 2011.
“Based on initial analysis, the video seems credible to us and provides new proof of life of the four French hostages kidnapped in Arlit [northern Niger] on 16 September, 2010”, said Philippe Lalliot of the French foreign ministry on Monday.
Lalliot said that the video, which lasts eight minutes and 42 seconds, is still being authenticated.
In the footage, Frenchman Daniel Larribe says he was kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim).
ANI states on its website that Larribe was speaking on 27 June and quotes him as saying “I am in good health.”
It is not clear whether the hostages were filmed in the same location.
Fellow French hostages Pierre Legrand, Thierry Dol and Marc Feret also make statements in the video, as well as South African Stephen Malcolm, Dutchman Sjaak Rijke and Johan Gustafsson, who is Swedish.
Dol, Larribe, Legrand and Feret mostly worked for the French public nuclear company Areva and its subcontractor Satom.
Daniel Larribe’s wife Françoise was also captured but was released in 2011.
A fifth French hostage, Serge Lazarevic, was kidnapped in Mali in November 2011 along with Philippe Verdon who was found dead earlier this year.
During the occupation of northern Mali by Aqim and its allies Ansar Dine and Mujao, before France’s military intervention, the groups used ANI as a conduit for information.