Mali Extremists Release Video of 6 Western Hostages
One of them has been held since 2011
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 3, 2017 12:11 AM CDT
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Hostage Sophie Petronin of France.   (Uncredited)
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(Newser) – An al-Qaeda-linked group in Mali has released a proof-of-life video showing six foreign hostages, a group that monitors jihadist communications says, shortly before the French president arrived in the West African country for an anti-terror summit. The recently formed Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen issued the video Saturday on Telegram, the SITE Intelligence Group said. The video shows Stephen McGowan of South Africa, Elliot Kenneth Arthur of Australia, Iulian Ghergut of Romania, Beatrice Stockly of Switzerland, Gloria Cecilia Narvaez of Colombia, and Sophie Petronin of France, the AP reports. "No genuine negotiations have begun to rescue your children," a narrator says.

The narrator also mentions the recently elected French President Emmanuel Macron, saying that Petronin "is hoping that the new French president will come to her rescue." Macron met Sunday in Mali with heads of state from five nations across Africa's Sahel region to build support for a new 5,000-strong multinational force meant to counter extremists there. "These people are nothing," he said of the extremists. "They are terrorists, thugs, and assassins. And we will put all of our energies into eradicating them." Of the six shown in the video, McGowan was the earliest seized, abducted in 2011 from a hostel in Timbuktu. (Last week, extremists released a Swedish man kidnapped the same year.)

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