France has vowed to mobilise all resources to secure the release of five of its citizens and two other Africans abducted in Niger last week.
Al-Qaeda's North Africa branch, the so-called al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings and warned Paris of any attempt to free the hostages.
The captives are now believed to be in Mali.
Some eighty French troops have been operating out of a hotel in Niger's capital - scouting the West African desert in an attempt to rescue the hostages.
In July, a similar mission involving the French and Mauritanian troops resulted in the execution of the 78-year-old French captive.
AQIM has warned the French government against acting aggressively again.
Has France become target number one for this al-Qaeda offshoot? And why?
Inside Story, with presenter Imran Garda, discusses with Hamdi Ould el-Hacen, a freelance journalist, Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor of al-Quds al-Arabi, and author of The Secret History of Al Qaeda, and Andrew Black, the CEO of Black Watch Global, and contributor to the Jamestown Foundation.
This episode of Inside Story aired from Thursday, September 23, at 1730GMT, with repeats at 2230TM, and the next day at 0430GMT and 1030GMT.