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Mali arrests AQIM suspects

Dec. 14, 2011 at 10:12 AM

BAMAKO, Mali, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Authorities in Mali said they arrested alleged al-Qaida affiliates thought to have kidnapped two Frenchmen last month near the border with Niger.

State-run television in Mali showed three of the four nationals believed to be working with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African branch of al-Qaida. They were accused of kidnapping two Frenchmen near the border with Niger last month.

AQIM said the two men were working for the French intelligence agency, though Paris denied the suggestion, the BBC reports.

Malian authorities didn't provide details about the fate of the hostages, Philippe Verdon and Serge Lazarevic.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said last weekend that contact was made to secure their release, the broadcaster adds.

Leaders of the organization said in an audio message broadcast by al-Jazeera in November 2010 that Paris should pull out of Afghanistan to save the lives of other hostages.

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden issued a similar message in an audio message last year, calling on Frances to pull its troops from Afghanistan and stop meddling in African affairs.

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