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Nigerian Islamist group releases hostage video

media Screen capture of French hostage Francis Collomp in a video by Ansaru. DR

The Nigerian Islamist group Ansaru has released a video of a French engineer, who has been held hostage since December 2012. The French foreign ministry is working to authenticate the video, which was posted online on Friday.

In the three-minute video, the hostage identifies himself as 63 year-old Francis Collomp, who was kidnapped in Katsina, Nigeria on 19 December 2012. Collomp was working on a wind power project for the French firm Vergnet at the time, before his compound was stormed by gunmen.

The hostage is wearing a white t-shirt in the video, with an unidentified person in the background holding a weapon.

If the video is authentic, it would be the first sighting of Collomp since his kidnapping.

Denis Collomp, the hostage’s brother, said he was relieved to see the images, but remained sceptical of his release.

“It’s good, even though he looked tired,” Denis Collomp told the AFP news agency. “[But] Ansaru have never released a single hostage, so it’s still very worrying.”

While parts of the video are difficult to understand, Francis Collomp is heard calling for negotiations and his “safe release.” During the last half of the video, a statement in Arabic vows to deal with the “treachery and treason” committed by the French and Nigerian governments with “reciprocity.”

Ansaru claimed responsibility for Collomp’s kidnapping just days after he was taken from the compound where he was living, and said it was in response to France’s call for a military intervention in Mali against Islamist rebels.

Ansaru has also been blamed for the abduction of a Briton and Italian in 2011 in northern Nigeria. Both hostages were killed last March.

The group has been formally labelled as a terrorist organisation by Britain, who says Ansaru most likely has ties to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

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