Al Qaeda’s North African wing said it would kill a French hostage in 15 days if the French government failed to meet its demands, the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group said.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said in May it was holding 78-year-old Michel Germaneau, who was seized in northern Niger in April.
It demanded a prisoner exchange and said French President Nicolas Sarkozy would be
responsible for Germaneau’s life reports Reuters.
On Sunday it gave France 15 days starting from July 12 to respond to its demands, according to an Internet statement monitored by SITE.
“The mujahideen decided to grant a final extension to France that will not be repeated and will not exceed 15 days, starting on Monday,” the statement read, according to SITE’s translation.
“At the end of this period and the non-response to our legitimate demands, then France will have sentenced its citizen to death …”
It said if Sarkozy did not respond, he would have committed the same “folly” as former British prime minister Gordon Brown.
AQIM killed British captive Edwin Dyer last year after Britain refused to give in to its demands.
Germaneau is a retired engineer who had worked in the Algerian oil sector.
AQIM released a picture and audio of Germaneau in May in which he said he had a serious medical condition, and urged Sarkozy to find a “good solution” for him.
Governments have little influence in the desert region where he was seized, where bandits, smugglers, former rebels and groups linked to al Qaeda operate.
The militants in the Sahara have so far not been able to stage any large-scale attacks, but Western diplomats say the cash they are accumulating from a series of kidnappings of foreigners will make them a more potent threat.
Western countries say if action is not taken, al Qaeda militants could turn the Sahara into a safe haven along the lines of Somalia or Yemen, and use it to launch attacks.
Mali, Niger, Algeria and Mauritania have opened a joint military headquarters in southern Algeria.