France holds security meeting over abducted nationals

15:18, September 24, 2010      

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President Nicolas Sarkozy, Prime Minister Francois Fillon and other top security officials gathered Thursday at the Elysee Palace for the fourth security meeting within a week over terrorist threats to France.

Measures to save nationals kidnapped in Africa and how to secure France from potential terrorism attacks were the focus of the meeting.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux, Defense Minister Herve Morin and other top officials from the foreign ministry, police and intelligence service attended the meeting, according to the Elysee Palace.

On Sept. 16, seven employees working for French firms Areva and Satom, including five French nationals, were abducted by al-Qaida in North Africa (AQIM) in northern Niger and on Wednesday three French crewmen working for a marine service firm, Bourbon, were kidnapped off the Nigerian coast.

So far, there has been no claim of responsibility for the Nigerian kidnapping.

Defense Minister Morin told French radio earlier Thursday the five nationals in the hands of AQIM were believed to be alive.

"For the moment, our concern is to be able to make contact with Al-Qaeda, to know what the demands are, which we haven't received," he was quoted by local media.

France has dispatched an intelligence team to Niger to track down the hostages and their captors.

After the Niger abduction, France raised its national security alert to red, the second highest after scarlet.

So far this month, Paris and its suburbs have experienced two hoax bombs and police foiled a planned attack by a suicide bomber last week, according to security officials.

Source: Xinhua


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