Bin Laden ultimatum on French hostages

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The Independent Online

Osama Bin Laden demanded that France withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the release of French hostages being held by al-Qa'ida affiliates, according to an audio message on an Arabic news channel yesterday.

"The exit of your hostages out of the hands of our brothers depends on the exit of your troops from Afghanistan," Bin Laden said in the message broadcast by Al Jazeera.

Extremist groups associated with al-Qa'ida are holding at least seven French hostages, including five in the Sahara and two in Afghanistan.