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Jund Al-Khilafah kidnaps Frenchman in Algeria

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In WORLD NEWS
Sep 22nd, 2014
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Jund Al-Khilafah kidnaps Herve Gourdel

Jund Al-Khilafah kidnaps Herve Gourdel

Algiers (Agencies + DIPLOMAT.SO)- A kidnapped Frenchman has appeared in a video, saying he is being held by an Algeria-based Islamic State splinter group.

In the footage, a spokesman for the group – which calls itself Jund Al-Khilafah or Caliphate Soldiers – threatens to kill the man unless France ends its military operation against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq.

France’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed the video is genuine, identifying the hostage as Herve Gourdel.

In a statement it said Mr Gourdel was kidnapped in the eastern Algerian region of Tizi Ouzou on Sunday.

It said: “The threats made by this terrorist group shows once again the extreme cruelty of Daech (Islamic State) and those who say they are affiliated to it.”

Flanked by two armed men, Mr Gourdel gives his name, age and date of birth.

He says: “I am in the hands of Jund al-Khilifa, an Algerian armed group.

“This armed group is asking me to ask you (President Francois Hollande) to not intervene in Iraq.

“They are holding me as a hostage and I ask you Mr President to do everything to get me out of this bad situation and I thank you.”

Mr Hollande’s office has released a statement saying the president has spoke with Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal by phone. It said the two had agreed “total cooperation” in finding the man.

Jund al-Khilafah is thought to be an al Qaeda splinter group which has broken away in recent weeks and pledged allegiance to IS.

The mountainous Tizi Ouzou region is a known hideout for North Africa’s al Qaeda branch, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

The abduction is reported to have taken place hours after IS threatened attacks on French citizens after Paris launched airstrikes against them on Friday.

An IS spokesman called on followers to kill Europeans and Americans, and “especially the spiteful and filthy French.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an Algerian security official said the 55-year-old man had been hiking with two friends when all three were taken.

The Associated Press news agency quoted the official as saying the victim’s companions were later released and alerted the authorities.

In response to Sunday’s warning, France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said: “This threat to kill civilians, added to the execution of hostages and to the massacres, is yet another demonstration of the barbarism of these terrorists, justifying our fight without truce or pause.

“France is not afraid because it is prepared to respond to their threats.”

IS has taken over large swathes of Iraq and Syria in recent months, where it has declared an Islamic state, or caliphate.

The group has released videos showing the murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines.

It has warned that fellow British captive Alan Henning will be next if Prime Minister David Cameron continues to support the fight against the jihadist organisation.

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