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Bin Laden threatens France in new message

SAMAA | - Posted: Jan 21, 2011 | Last Updated: 11 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Jan 21, 2011 | Last Updated: 11 years ago

KABUL: Osama bin Laden demanded that France withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the release of French hostages being held by al-Qaida affiliates, according to an audio message broadcast on an ArabicNews channel Friday.”The release of your prisoners by our brothers is connected to the departure of you soldiers from our country,” bin Laden said, meaning Afghanistan, in the message broadcast by Al-Jazeera.Extremist groups associated with al-Qaida are holding at least seven French hostages, including five in the Sahara Desert and two in Afghanistan. France has about 3,850 troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO mission fighting the Taliban. French forces are deployed mainly in the Kapisa and Surobi districts north and east of Kabul, the Afghan capital.French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said his nation remains undaunted in its role to help stabilise Afghanistan.French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said Bin Laden's message was still being authenticated.Bin Laden reminded the French people of Sarkozy's refusal in November to withdraw French troops from Afghanistan and to negotiate with al-Qaida over the hostages.”The refusal of your President to leave Afghanistan is a result of his obedience towards US policy. By refusing he is given a green light to kill your hostages. … This stance of his will cost him and you dearly on many levels, whether inside or outside France,” he said.The al-Qaida leader questioned why the French would consider the resistance against Nazi German troops occupying their nation in World War II to be heroic while the fight against French and other foreign troops inAfghanistan is labeled terrorism.Bin Laden also challenged whether the state of France's economy would allow it to wage a successful fight against al-Qaida.”The size of your debts and the weakness of your budgets will not allow you to open new fronts,” he said.AP cannot independently verify the audio.Al-Qaida has often sent audio messages to Al-Jazeera for broadcast. AGENCIES

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