Islamic State: France pledges to keep fighting Isis despite Algeria hostage threats

Pro-Isis militants in North Africa have said they will kill a captured French hiker if President Hollande does not call off air strikes

Click to follow
The Independent Online

France has vowed to continue fighting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq regardless of a video threatening to kill a kidnapped French hiker.

A pro-Isis splinter group in Algeria abducted the man and two others on Monday, and later released a video saying they would kill the man unless France stopped cooperating with the US on airstrikes.

French PM Manuel Valls said on Europe 1 radio that French authorities are "doing everything" to try to free the hostage, but will not negotiate with his captors.

He said: "If we cede, if we retreat one inch, that would hand victory to the militants."

The video has been confirmed as genuine by the French foreign ministry, which identified the man as 55-year-old mountain guide Herve Gourdel. The other two men were released, and alerted the authorities.

On Friday, French forces joined the US in carrying out airstrikes against extremists who have taken over large areas of Syria and Iraq.

In the video, which appeared on social media, a masked member of a group calling itself Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, addressed a threat to President Francois Hollande that Mr Gourdel would be killed unless the air strikes were halted within 24 hours. The group, linked to al-Qaeda's North African branch, said it was answering a call by Isis spokesperson Abu Muhammad al-Adnani to attack Americans and Europeans.

In a 42-minute audio statement released on Sunday, al-Adnani urged followers to kill Europeans and Americans, and "especially the spiteful and filthy French". The group has already beheaded two American journalists and a British aid worker.

algeria_1.jpg
Algerian troops carry out search operations in the mountainous eastern Tizi Ouzou region in a desperate bid to find French hiker Herve Gourdel who was kidnapped by militants linked to the Isis group

Mr Hollande's office said yesterday that the president spoke to Algerian prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal by phone, emphasising the "total co-operation" between France and Algeria to try to find and free the Frenchman. It said authorities in the two countries were in contact.

Additional reporting by PA