Osama bin Laden said the kidnapping of five French nationals in Niger last month had been prompted by France's unjust treatment of Muslims, in an audio message aired on Al Jazeera television on Wednesday.
"How is it right for you to occupy our countries and kill our women and children and expect to live in peace and security?" a speaker who sounded like the Al-Qaida leader said in the message directed to the French people.
Five French nationals and two Africans were kidnapped in Niger in September, in an operation claimed by Al-Qaida North African wing.
The September 16 kidnapping was an escalation in the hostilities between the militant group and France. AQIM executed 78-year-old French hostage Michel Germaneau in July after French commandos took part in a failed raid to free him.
"The way to preserve your security is to end all aspects of your injustices against our Muslim nation, the most important of which is for you to withdraw from Bush's loathed war in Afghanistan," Bin Laden said.
The Al-Qaida leader, believed to be hiding in the mountainous border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, also blasted a French ban on full face Islamic veils.
"You behaved recklessly by banning our fair women from wearing the veil. Is it not our right to expel your invading men by attacking them?" he asked.
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