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Islamist Group Soldiers of the Caliphate Kidnaps Frenchman in Algeria

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ALGIERS, Algeria — A splinter group from al-Qaida's North African branch kidnapped a French citizen and said Monday that it would kill him unless France halts its airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq. In a video that appeared on social media, a masked member of a group calling itself Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, addressed the threat to French President Francois Hollande and said the hostage would be killed unless the airstrikes were halted within 24 hours. The group said it was answering a call by Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani to attack Americans and Europeans.

The French Foreign Ministry confirmed the authenticity of the video and identified the hostage as 55-year-old Herve Gourdel. Hollande spoke with Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal by phone, the French president's office said in a statement, emphasizing the "total cooperation" between France and Algeria to try to find and free the Frenchman. It said authorities in the two countries were in constant contact. French forces joined the U.S. on Sept. 19 in carrying out airstrikes against forces from the Islamic State group, which have overrun large swathes of Syria and Iraq.

Image: A captive Frenchman appeals to French President Francois Hollande to help free him.
In this still image from video published on the Internet on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, by a group calling itself Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, a captive Frenchman appeals to French President Francois Hollande to help free him. The Frenchman, whom the ministry described as a 55-year-old mountain guide, said he was taken hostage by the group on Sunday and reiterated its demands that the French military end its airstrikes in Iraq. The group said it was answering a call by Islamic State group spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani to attack Americans and Europeans.AP

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