France: Bin Laden warning after kidnapping

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Al-Qa'ida leader Osama bin Laden said the kidnapping of five French nationals in Niger last month had been prompted by France's unjust treatment of Muslims, in an audio message broadcast by Al Jazeera television on Wednesday.

"How is it right for you to occupy our countries and kill our women and children and expect to live in peace and security?" a speaker who sounded like bin Laden said in the message directed to the French people.

"The equation is clear: you are killed as you kill and abducted as you abduct, and as you damage our security we damage your security."

Five French nationals and two Africans were kidnapped in Niger on 16 September, in an operation claimed by al-Qa'ida's North African wing (AQIM). The kidnapping was an escalation in the hostilities between the militant group and France. AQIM executed 78-year-old French hostage Michel Germaneau in July after French commandos took part in a failed raid to free him.

"The way to preserve your security is to end all aspects of your injustices against our Muslim nation, the most important of which is for you to withdraw from Bush's loathed war in Afghanistan," bin Laden said.

The al-Qa'ida leader, believed to be hiding in the border areas of Afghanistan, also blasted the French ban on full-face Islamic veils.