Muslim woman wearing veil REUTERS Sept 10, 2010
A Muslim woman takes part in a demonstration ainst France's banning of full face veils from public spaces. Sept. 27, 2010. Photo by Reuters
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Al Qaida in North Africa demanded a repeal of France's ban on Muslim face veils, the release of militants and about 7 million euros (e10 million) to free five
French hostages, Al Arabiya TV on Monday quoted sources saying.

"The abductors have unrealistic demands which Mali and France and could not accept ... including withdrawing a ban on the face veil in France and the release of some of the group's elements detained in France, Mauritania and other countries," the television channel quoted unnamed informed sources saying.

Initial contacts with Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) through local chiefs in Mali were "not encouraging" due to the nature of the demands, the sources told Al Arabiya.

The group is also demanding one million euros for the release of each hostage, five French citizens and two Africans, the Dubai-based television quoted the sources as saying.

The six men and one Frenchwoman, employees of French firms Areva and Vinci, were kidnapped in mid-September in Niger before being taken to Mali.

The kidnapping marked an escalation of tensions between Paris and AQIM, which executed 78-year-old French hostage Michel Germaneau in July after French commandos took part in a failed raid to free him. It vowed to avenge the raid.

France has said it has not received any demands from AQIM since the workers were kidnapped but has said it would consider negotiating with the hostage takers for their release.