ABU DHABI (Reuters) - A militant Islamist website has created a series of posters calling for attacks on France and for the assassination of President Francois Hollande in reprisal for the country’s policies in Mali and the Central African Republic, the SITE monitoring service said late on Monday.
In addition to assisting Mali in its war against Islamists, France sent troops four months ago to the majority Christian Central African Republic, where predominantly Muslim “Seleka” rebels seized power a year ago. The Seleka have since been pushed back by Christian “anti-balaka” - “anti-machete” in the local language - militia.
The al Minbar Jihadi Media Network, a well-known Islamist website, created six posters as part of a campaign it dubbed, “We will not be silent, O France,” SITE said.
The forum’s “Media soldiers for the support of Islam” designed the posters, which can be downloaded and printed by visitors to the site.
France’s troops in the Central African Republic, around 2,000 soldiers, are supporting a 6,000-strong African Union peacekeeping mission.
“To our lone-wolves in France, assassinate the president of disbelief and criminality, terrify his cursed government, and bomb them and scare them as a support to the vulnerable in the Central African Republic,” one of the posters said.
Hollande has said his troops would work to stop the Central African Republic splitting in two and to disarm rival fighters.
A source in the French president’s office said that while the government was very alert to the threat of attacks, they were not a new phenomenon.
“This is not the first time there have been threats,” the source said. “There were others during the Mali intervention and even before, so we took precautionary measures.”
“Just because they (threats) are being publicized does not mean that they are new... Sometimes they are more dangerous when they are not publicized.”
Al Minbar Jihadi Media Network publishes news for various al Qaeda affiliates and other jihadists and has had an online magazine since July last year.
A French-led offensive in January 2013 drove out Islamist militants who had seized control of northern Mali. Small groups of fighters loyal to Islamist groups including the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa and al Qaeda in the Maghreb still operate in the desert region, carrying out periodic attacks.
Kidnappings and killing of French nationals has since then taken place as a form of reprisal.
Two French journalists were abducted and killed in Northern Mali in November, with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claiming responsibility.
Reporting by Maha El Dahan and Omar Fahmy; Additional reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Hugh Lawson