Nigeria group releases 'French hostage' video

SITE monitoring website publishes video it says was released by kidnappers of Francis Collomp.

    If the video is confirmed as authentic, it would be the first visual sign of life from Francis Collomp [Screen grab]
    If the video is confirmed as authentic, it would be the first visual sign of life from Francis Collomp [Screen grab]

    A French hostage kidnapped by an armed groups in Nigeria has asked for French and Nigerian government help in securing his release in a video released by his captors, according to the SITE web monitoring service.

    If the video, published by the Washington-based group on Saturday, is confirmed as authentic it would be the first visual sign of life from Francis Collomp since around 30 armed men stormed his compound on December 19 in the remote northern Nigerian town of Rimi, close to the Niger border where al-Qaeda's North African wing operates.

    Western governments are increasingly concerned about armed groups in Africa's Sahel region because of the risk it could become a platform for international attacks.

    Ansaru armed group said soon after Collomp's abduction that he had been taken in retaliation for France's planned military action against jihadi fighters in nearby Mali, launched a month later, and its ban on wearing the full-face veil.

    Collomp, 63, an engineer who was working for French renewable energy firm Vergnet, appeared in the three-minute video posted on a forum which he said was filmed on September 25.

    "It is urgent that my family and friends and my fellow citizens of France and anyone else that can do something. The French and the Nigerian governments should [get involved] for my sake and [pursue] negotiations for my safe release, please," Collomp, wearing a white T-shirt with an unidentified armed man stood behind him, said in the video, speaking in English.

    'Crazy ways'

    An Arabic-language message displayed at the end of the video said, according to SITE, "If you want to repeat your crazy ways in dealing with the events with excessive violence, then we will deal with you ... Everything that happened to this French hostage is on you."

    The message contained no clear demands.

    Collomp's wife said she was relieved her husband was alive.

    "I didn't even recognise my husband. I thought he looked very tired and thin," Anne-Marie Collomp said on France Info radio on Saturday.

    "He is alive and that makes me happy but it still hurts. I hope it won't last much longer and I hope that [President] Hollande will do everything he can to get him out."

    A French foreign ministry spokesman said the video was being analysed and it was doing evertyhing it could to free Collomp.

    Britain has put Ansaru on its official "terrorist group" list, saying it is aligned with al-Qaeda and was behind the kidnapping of a British and a Italian who were killed last year during a failed rescue attempt.

    Ansaru's full name is Jama'atu Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladis Sudan, which roughly translates as "Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa".

    The group claimed responsibility for a dawn raid on a major police station in the Nigerian capital Abuja in November, where it said hundreds of prisoners were released.

    SOURCE: AFP


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