NOUAKCHOTT Jan 20 (Reuters) - Veteran jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar has claimed responsibility in the name of al Qaeda for the mass hostage-taking in Algeria and called on France to halt air strikes in Mali, Mauritanian news website Sahara Media said on Sunday, citing a video.
"We in al Qaeda announce this blessed operation," Belmokhtar said in the video, according to Sahara Media. "We are ready to negotiate with the West and the Algerian government provided they stop their bombing of Mali's Muslims."
Sahara Media did not display the video itself on its site and it was not immediately possible to verify the information. (Reporting by Laurent Prier; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Alison Williams)