French leader: Al-Qaida link to Nigeria kidnapping

December 21, 2012 - 4:33 AM

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — President Francois Hollande says a French engineer kidnapped in northern Nigeria was "without a doubt" seized by a group linked to al-Qaida's north African wing, or its jihadist affiliates.

The French leader told Europe-1 radio on Friday that "powerfully armed" assailants captured the engineer two days earlier.

Nigerian police have said that about 30 attackers stormed the French man's home in the northern town of Rimi. They also killed two Nigerians — a neighbor and a security guard of the engineer with French energy firm Vergnet SA.

The kidnapping occurred in a quiet area close to Niger. France has been among the Western countries pressing for international action to rid northern Mali, to the north, of al-Qaida-linked jihadists who have controlled the vast, arid zone for months.