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Al-Qaida-linked Mali Extremists Release Proof-of-Life Video Showing 6 Foreign Hostages

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This video grab made on July 2, 2017 from a video provided by the SITE Intelligence Group shows elderly Australian surgeon Arthur Kenneth Elliott, one of the six hostages held by Al-Qaeda's Mali branch. VOA

An al-Qaida-linked group in Mali has released a proof-of-life video showing six foreign hostages, a group that monitors jihadist communications says, shortly before the French president’s arrival in the West African country for an anti-terror summit.

The recently formed Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen issued the video Saturday on Telegram, the SITE Intelligence Group said. The video shows Stephen McGowan of South Africa, Elliot Kenneth Arthur of Australia, Iulian Ghergut of Romania, Beatrice Stockly of Switzerland, Gloria Cecilia Narvaez of Colombia and Sophie Petronin of France.

“No genuine negotiations have begun to rescue your children,” a narrator says.

The narrator also mentions the recently elected French President Emmanuel Macron, saying that Petronin “is hoping that the new French president will come to her rescue.”

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Macron meets Sunday in Mali with heads of state from five nations across Africa’s Sahel region to build support for a new 5,000-strong multinational force meant to counter extremists there. Deadly attacks in recent years in countries once considered relatively safe have alarmed the international community.

In March, a video announced the creation of Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen from a merger of three extremist groups: the al-Qaida-linked al-Mourabitoun, Ansar Dine and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen claimed responsibility for last month’s attack on a resort area popular with foreigners outside Mali’s capital that killed at least five people.

A number of the hostages in Mali have been held for years. The video comes after Sweden’s government on Monday announced the release of Johan Gustafsson, who was held by Islamic extremists in Mali for six years. (VOA)

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Man Accused in Christchurch Mosque Shootings Charged with Terrorism

The single charge filed Tuesday against Australian Brenton Tarrant is the first of its kind

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Man, Christchurch, Mosque, Terrorism
Brenton Tarrant, charged for murder in relation to the mosque attacks, is lead into the dock for his appearance in the Christchurch District Court, New Zealand, March 16, 2019. (Suspect's face blurred at source) VOA

Authorities in New Zealand have charged the self-avowed white supremacist who killed 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques back in March with terrorism.

The single charge filed Tuesday against Australian Brenton Tarrant is the first of its kind under New Zealand’s Terrorism Suppression Act, which was passed in 2002 in the wake of the al-Qaida-led terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. the previous year. Prosecutors have also charged him with an additional count of murder over a worshipper who died in the hospital earlier this month, along with two additional counts of attempted murder, bringing that number to 40.

Up to 200 family members of the victims and survivors of the attack were informed of the new charges at a private meeting with police.

The 28-year-old Tarrant live-streamed the March 15 shootings at the al-Noor and Linwood mosques on Facebook from a head-mounted camera.

Man, Christchurch, Mosque, Terrorism
Authorities in New Zealand have charged the self-avowed white supremacist who killed 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques. Flickr

He is currently being held at a maximum security prison where he was ordered to undergo psychiatric tests to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial. His next court date is June 14.

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The 28-year-old Tarrant e-mailed a lengthy white nationalist manifesto to more than 30 recipients just minutes before the attacks – including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – in which he allegedly denounced Muslims and called immigrants “invaders.” (VOA)