French hostage pleads for his life on video
ABU DHABI |
ABU DHABI (Reuters) - An Islamist group in Somalia issued a video on Friday of a French hostage held in the Horn of Africa country since 2009 pleading with French President Francois Hollande to negotiate his release and save his life.
The video appeared on a website used by Islamist militant groups around the world. Reuters could not immediately verify its authenticity.
Two French security advisers were kidnapped by the al Shabaab rebel group in Somalia in 2009 but one, Marc Aubriere, escaped a month later.
In the video, Denis Allex said he feared for his life but that the doors of negotiation for his release were open if Hollande was "sincere and honest."
"Mr. president, I am still alive but for how long? That depends on you for if you do not reach an agreement for my release then I am afraid that this will be the last message you receive from me," he says in French with an English transcript of his words appearing on the video. In it, Allex says the video was recorded in July.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the video was still being authenticated and France was making every effort to ensure the hostage's release, without giving details.
After his abduction in 2009 al Shabaab issued a statement of demands, including an end to French support for the Somali government and the withdrawal of African Union peacekeepers.
In the latest message, Allex says he and other French hostages abducted in various parts of the world were, "victims of France's oppressive policies towards Muslims in France and those outside of France."
Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab fled its last urban bastion of Kismayu last week during an offensive by African Union and Somali government troops. The loss of the port city is a major blow to the rebels, depriving them of revenue from taxing local businesses and shipping.
The rebels have threatened to retaliate. Analysts expect the militants to resort increasingly to suicide bombings and hit-and-run attacks similar to those that have rocked the capital Mogadishu over the last year.
(Reporting By Maha El Dahan; Additional reporting by Nick Vinocur; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
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