A Jihadist leader on Saturday accused French President Francois Hollande of putting hostage lives at risk by backing military intervention in northern Mali in a claim dismissed by the head of state.
Oumar Ould Hamaha, a leader of one of the rebel groups allied with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) that seized control of the north following a March coup also said Hollande had put his own life in danger.
"The lives of the French hostages are now in danger because of statements by the French president who wants to wage war against us. His own life is now in danger. He needs to know this," said Hamaha, who claimed membership in the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).
AQIM is currently holding nine Europeans hostage in the Sahel region, six of them French.
Hollande responded by sticking to his guns, saying he was determined to continue with French policy on the "war on terrorism".
"It's by showing great determination to stick to our policy, which is that of war on terrorism, that we can convince the hostage-takers that it is now time to release our hostages," Hollande said at a press conference in Kinshasa, where he was attending the Francophonie summit.
He later addressed the hostage-takers from the French embassy in Kinshasa when he said of the hostages, "free them before it is too late".
On Friday, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution -- mainly drafted by France -- pressing West African nations to speed up preparations for an international military intervention aimed at reconquering northern Mali. The organisation gave them 45 days.
Hollande said France would back the intervention financially and logistically but would not include its own soldiers in the operation.
"Hollande is now in danger and he wants to open the door to hell to the French hostages. We're ready for all eventualities," Hamaha told AFP.
"If we wanted to take French hostages in west Africa or even in France, we could do so easily," he added.