France - Mali - Niger

Video shows French hostages alive

Reuters/Agence Nouakchott Informations/Handout

Mauritania’s Sahara Media published on Friday a video of five French hostages, who were kidnapped by the North African Al-Qaeda branch in Mali and Niger over the past two years. The images show the men introducing themselves and offering messages to their families, while being surrounded by armed men.


One of the hostages, Philippe Verdon, spoke of the difficult living conditions and said that he had not taken his medication in the last three months. He did not say what ailment he was treating.

In the video, Verdon appeals to the international community to help free himself and his colleague, Serge Lazarevic. The pair were kidnapped in Hombori in northeastern Mali, where they worked as geologists.

Verdon said that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was “available to negotiate.”

According to Sahara Media, the video was taken in the last few months of ex-French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s term.

While the video provides proof that the hostages are still alive, negotiations for their release remain at a standstill.

AQIM is currently holding four other French hostages, who were kidnapped from a uranium mine in the north of Niger in September 2010. The group says they will release them once France withdraws its forces from Afghanistan.

A Swede, Dutch and South African were also kidnapped by the group in November 2011, during an attack in Timbuktu, Mali.

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