The Islamist group Ansaru has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a French engineer in Nigeria.
In a statement sent to journalists, the group said it “announces to the world, especially the French government, that it was responsible for the abduction”.
Francis Colump, 63, of French firm Vergnet, was snatched from a guarded compound in Katsina state last week.
About 30 gunmen took part in the attack in which a security guard and a neighbour were killed.
“The reason for kidnap is the stance of the French government and the French people on Islam and Muslims,” Ansaru said in its statement.
The group singled out “the law the government created which prohibits the wearing of niqab by French Muslim women”.
“This is a denial of their religious rights,” it said.
Ansaru also mentioned “France’s major role in the planned attack on the Islamic state in northern Mali”, referring to Paris’ backing for an African-led military force to try to oust Islamists from Mali.
“We inform the French government that this group will continue launching attacks on the French government and French citizens… as long as it does not change its stance on these two issues,” the statement went on to say.
Last month, the British government officially declared Ansaru to be a “Nigeria-based terrorist organisation” aligned with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
It is also believed to have loose ties with Boko Haram, which has carried out a series of deadly attacks in northern Nigeria in its bid to impose Islamic law in the country.