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Al Qaeda Claims Responsibility For Death Of Two French Journalists

The Mauritanian news website Sahara Media says it has received a claim of responsibility from al Qaeda’s regional wing for the killing on Saturday in Kidal, northern Mali, of two French journalists who work for Radio France International.

Sahara Medias is often sent statements by Islamist militants in Mali.

A Sahara Media reporter said a spokesman for Abdelkrim al-Targui, a senior regional commander for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM, had called by satellite phone to read a communique in Arabic.

The caller had started by speaking in Tamashek, the language spoken by Tuaregs in northern Mali.

The communiqué said the killing was only a small part of the price French President Francois Hollande and his people would have to pay for this year’s military intervention, which drove out Islamist militants who had seized half the country.

It now aims to hand control to a gradually deploying UN mission designed to reach 12,600 members.

In March, AQIM announced it had killed another French hostage, Philippe Verdon, in response to France’s intervention in Mali. His body was found by French troops in July.

Last week, four other French hostages kidnapped by Islamist elements in neighbouring Niger were released.

On Tuesday, France announced it had bolstered its military presence by 150 troops in Kidal – a northern stronghold of Tuareg separatist rebels where instability has grown in recent months.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said after the killings that Paris would not delay a planned reduction of its troop presence from 3,200 to 1,000 scheduled for February.

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