France - Niger - Mali

Al-Qaeda claims Frenchmen's Niger kidnapping

Reuters/Luc Moleux

Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for kidnapping two French men in Niger last week. The men were taken captive in a restaurant in the capital Niamey on Friday. They died after French and Niger security forces pursued their abductors.  

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A spokesperson for Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim) accused the French government of recklessness after the kidnappers warned the French and Niger army not to pursue them.

An autopsy completed in Paris on Thursday revealed that one of the men was shot in the face while the other was burnt, but not shot.

No official cause of death has been announced, but a police source told the AFP news agency that one of the two was shot point-blank in the face, supporting the French government’s claim that he was executed.

The source said the other man, without specifying which one, was completely burnt, and was not shot. Burns suggest that the vehicle in which the men were being carried exploded.

Malian sources said that French helicopters fired on the kidnappers’ vehicles, and that several burnt vehicles were found at the scene of Saturday’s attack.

The bodies of Vincent Delory and Antoine De Léocour arrived in Paris from Niger on Wednesday.

French Defence Minister Alain Juppé said Tuesday that the men were ”executed” by their kidnappers, and that one of them was killed by a bullet to the head.

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