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    Serge Lazarevic

    Al-Qaeda Branch in North Africa Releases Video of French, Dutch Hostages

    © AP Photo / Comite de Soutien pour Philippe Verdon et Serge Lazarevic
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    North African Islamist group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has released a video allegedly showing two hostages from France and the Netherlands, pleading authorities to negotiate their release.

    MOSCOW, November 18 (Sputnik) — North African Islamist group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has posted a video online allegedly showing two hostages from France and the Netherlands, abducted in November 2011, AFP reports.

    Private terrorism watchdog SITE uncovered the footage. It shows Serge Lazarevic, 50, a French national, and a person who states his name as Sjaak Rijke.

    In the video, Lazarevic, who holds a Serbian, as well as French citizenship, pleads French authorities to negotiate his release, adding that he is seriously ill, according to AFP. “I feel my life is in danger since France intervened in Iraq,” Lazarevic also stated, as quoted by the Associated Press.
    He did not say when the video was filmed. Lazarevic, taken hostage in the Malian town of Hombori, is the last French citizen in captivity globally.
    The French presidential office called the video of Lazarevic a “recent proof of life that was long overdue”, confirming its authenticity. “The president is in permanent contact with the authorities of the countries in the region to use all forms of dialogue to achieve the release of our hostage,” Francois Hollande’s office said in a statement.

    Sjaak Rijke, abducted in the town of Timbuktu, Mali, has also asked his government to help him. “As of today, I hold my government responsible for any harm that comes to me,” the AP quoted him as saying. A spokeswoman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry declined to comment, citing “the interest of the family,” according to AFP.

    Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is a militant group, which aims to establish an Islamic State in Algeria. It has kidnapped numerous Westerners for ransom. The French government has consistently denied it pays for the release of French hostages.


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    France, video, extremism, hostage, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Netherlands
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