French hostage of Nigerian Islamists pleads for help in video -SITE

French hostage of Nigerian Islamists pleads for help in video -SITE

PARIS/ABUJA - A French hostage kidnapped by Islamist militants in Nigeria has asked for French and Nigerian government help in securing his release in a video released by his captors, according to the SITE web monitoring service.

If the video is confirmed as authentic it would be the first visual sign of life from Francis Collomp since around 30 gunmen stormed his compound on Dec. 19 in the remote northern Nigerian town of Rimi, close to the Niger border where al Qaeda's North African wing operates.

Western governments are increasingly concerned about Islamist militants in Africa's Sahel region because of the risk it could become a platform for international jihadist attacks.

Ansaru militants said soon after Collomp's abduction that he had been taken in retaliation for France's planned military action against jihadi insurgents in nearby Mali, launched a month later, and its ban on wearing the full-face veil.

Collomp, 63, an engineer who was working for French renewable energy firm Vergnet, appeared in the three-minute video posted on a jihadi forum which he said was filmed on Sept. 25.

"It is urgent that my family and friends and my fellow citizens of France and anyone else that can do something. The French and the Nigerian governments should (get involved) for my sake and (pursue) negotiations for my safe release, please,"Collomp, wearing a white T-shirt with an unidentified armed man stood behind him, said in the video, speaking in English.

An Arabic-language message displayed at the end of the video said, according to SITE, "If you want to repeat your crazy ways in dealing with the events with excessive violence, then we will deal with you ... Everything that happened to this French hostage is on you." The message contained no clear demands.

Collomp's wife said she was relieved her husband was alive.

"I didn't even recognise my husband. I thought he looked very tired and thin," Anne-Marie Collomp said on France Info radio on Saturday. "He is alive and that makes me happy but it still hurts. I hope it won't last much longer and I hope that (President) Hollande will do everything he can to get him out."

A French foreign ministry spokesman said the video was being analysed and it was doing evertyhing it could to free Collomp.

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