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NOUAKCHOTT Nov 6 Mauritanian news website
Sahara Medias said on Wednesday it had received a claim from al
Qaeda's regional wing for the killing at the weekend of two
French journalists in northern Mali.
Abdallah Mohamedi, head of Sahara Medias, said the claim had
been emailed by fighters loyal to Abdelkrim al-Targui, a senior
regional commander for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Sahara Medias is often sent statements by Islamist militants
According to a communique published by the website, AQIM
said the killings of the two journalists for Radio France
International on Saturday in Kidal was a response to "crimes
perpetrated by France and its U.N., Malian and African allies".
France launched a major ground and air military operation in
January that drove Islamist militants from the towns of northern
Mali. It now aims to hand control to a gradually deploying U.N.
mission designed to reach 12,600 members.
The AQIM communique said this was only a small part of the
price French President Francois Hollande and his people would
pay in retaliation for the Mali offensive.
In March, AQIM announced it had killed another French
hostage, Philippe Verdon, in response to France's intervention
in Mali. His body was found by French troops in July.
Last week, four other French hostages kidnapped by Islamists
in neighbouring Niger were released.
On Tuesday, France announced it had bolstered its military
presence by 150 troops in Kidal - a northern stronghold of
Tuareg separatist rebels where instability has grown in recent
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said after the killings that
Paris would not delay a planned reduction of its troop presence
from 3,200 to 1,000 scheduled for February.
(Reporting by Laurent Prieur; Writing by Daniel Flynn and David
Lewis; Editing by Alistair Lyon)