Top most commander of Al Qaeda's north African wing, holding five French hostages has demanded that negotiations for their release must be directly held with terror networks' supreme leader Osama Bin Laden.
Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud, who also demanded withdrawal of French forces from Afghanistan, made the offer in an audio tape broadcast on Al Jazeera. "The summary of this message is clear.
Any negotiations for the return of the hostages should be carried out directly with Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and according to his conditions", said the voice of Abdel Wadoud.
The message gave no instructions on how Bin Laden who is believed to be holed up in mountains somewhere along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border should be reached and comes weeks after a message by Bin Laden himself broadcast over the radio slammed the French for sending troops to Afghanistan and passing a law to ban Islamic veil.
"You (French) should stop interfering in the affairs of Muslims and if you want the safety of the French people, you should pull back your troops from Afghanistan", the African Al Qaeda leader said.
France currently has 3800 troops in Afghanistan as part of NATO forces there. The French hostages were snatched from an African mining town of Arlit in Niger on September 16.