French Prime Minister: France 'at war' with al-Qaida


From the Associated Press. PARIS — France is "at war" with al-Qaida and will step up efforts to fight its North African offshoot after it executed a French hostage in the Sahara, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Tuesday.

Fillon acknowledged that the group may have killed 78-year-old hostage Michel Germaneau before — not after — a failed last-ditch raid to try to free him.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb said in an audio message broadcast Sunday that it had killed Germaneau in retaliation for a raid last week by Mauritanian and French forces that killed at least six al-Qaida militants.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed the killing Monday, vowing that the perpetrators "will not go unpunished."

His prime minister said Tuesday that France will reinforce efforts to work with governments in northwest Africa fighting al-Qaida in the sparsely populated swath of desert that includes the borders dividing Mauritania, Mali, Algeria and Niger.

"We are at war against al-Qaida," Fillon said on Europe-1 radio. He said France "thwarts several attacks every year," without elaborating. Read the full story.

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