PARIS, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- France's defense minister refused Wednesday to confirm claims at least 35 people have been detained by Malian officials in the deaths of two French journalists.
Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, journalists with Radio France Internationale, were killed in the Kidal region of northeastern Mali Saturday after they were kidnapped by a group of men.
In declining to respond to claims at least three dozen were arrested within 48 hours after the journalists' deaths, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, "We have to respect the procedure. This is a crime, a murder," RFI reported.
Those detained were said to be friends and acquaintances of four suspects and not directly involved in the killings.
Their names were found in documents discovered in a vehicle abandoned by the kidnappers, Malian officials said.