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Sep 22, 2014 1:57 PM

Officials: French citizen kidnapped in Algeria

The Associated Press

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) A French citizen was kidnapped by suspected Islamic militants while hiking in a mountainous Algerian region that is a known hideout for North Africa's al-Qaida branch, officials said.

The kidnapping comes after the Islamic State extremist group issued a call for attacks on Westerners, particularly French citizens.

An Algerian security official in the mountainous city of Tizi Ouzou, in the region where the kidnapping happened, said the 55-year-old man was hiking with two friends when he was abducted. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.

The French Foreign Ministry, in a statement, confirmed the kidnapping and said it had received no claim of responsibility. It didn't identify the man who was abducted.

On Sunday, the spokesman for the Islamic Group, an extremist splinter of al-Qaida, called on followers to kill Europeans and Americans, and "especially the spiteful and filthy French."

Responding to the statement at the time, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he was confident of the country's security.

"This threat to kill civilians, added to the execution of hostages and to the massacres, is yet another demonstration of the barbarism of these terrorists, justifying our fight without truce or pause," Cazeneuve said Monday. "France is not afraid because it is prepared to respond to their threats."

Algeria has been battling Islamist militants since the 1990s and in recent years has confined them to a few mountainous regions in the north of the country and in the Sahara desert in the extreme south.


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