DAKAR, Senegal - A tape released Thursday on a jihadist forum shows the first images of a group of hostages including five French citizens since they were seized two weeks ago in Niger by an al-Qaida offshoot and taken into the desert.

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania - The Mauritanian army has launched an offensive against the North African branch of al-Qaida in neighboring Mali.

PARIS - A 78-year-old ailing French aid worker was executed "in cold blood" by al-Qaida's North African branch three months after his capture, in retaliation for a failed rescue attempt that killed six militants, President Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday.

BAMAKO, Mali - Witnesses say at least 15 people died in a stampede in a Timbuktu mosque during services celebrating the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.

KIGALI, Rwanda - French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Thursday in the first visit to Rwanda by a French president in 25 years, a trip that was made despite French arrest warrants for eight people close to Kagame.
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