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Osama links hostages’ fate to Afghan pullout
Posted by The Agonist on January 21st, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

Dubai | Jan 21

AFP – Osama bin Laden said the release of French hostages depends on a pullout of France’s soldiers in Afghanistan and warned Paris of a “high price” for its policies, in a tape broadcast on Friday.

“We repeat the same message to you: The release of your prisoners in the hands of our brothers is linked to the withdrawal of your soldiers from our country,” said the speaker on the audiotape broadcast on Al-Jazeera television.

The satellite channel said Osama was referring to two French journalists held in Afghanistan, although he did not specify if it also covered France’s hostages seized in Africa.

The foreign ministry in Paris reacted swiftly, stressing it would not bow to such threats.

“We are determined to pursue our action in favour of the Afghan people with our allies” in the NATO-led force fighting their ousted Taliban rulers, ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters in Paris.

Separately, Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said: “France stands beside her allies at the request of the UN to help the Afghan people.

“I think about our two hostages in Afghanistan and we are working every day to have them freed,” she said during a visit to Israel.

Cameraman Stephane Taponier and reporter Herve Ghesquiere, who work for France 3 public television, were seized along with three Afghan colleagues in December 2009 in the mountainous and unstable Kapisa province, east of Kabul.

The Al-Qaeda chief, addressing the French people, said: “The refusal of your president to withdraw from Afghanistan is the result of his obedience of America, and this refusal is a green light to kill your prisoners …

“But we will not do this at a timing that suits him,” he said, adding the warning that French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s stand would “cost him and you a high price on different fronts, inside and outside France.”

Osama, in the tape whose authenticity was not immediately possible to determine, warned in a mocking tone that Paris “with its debt and budget deficit does not need new fronts.”

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