Al-Qaida in North Africa said Friday it has kidnapped a Frenchman and wants to trade him for the group's prisoners in France and other nations.
In a statement on militant websites, the group said it abducted Michel Germaneau in northern Niger on April 22. It also posted an audio recording purportedly of Germaneau relaying the group's demands to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as his picture and a copy of his passport.
It said Germaneau is a retired engineer who worked in the Algerian oil sector and now runs an association "whose real objectives are not known."
In a 48-second clip, Germaneau appeals to Sarkozy to "find a good solution for me." He says he is 78 years old, suffers from a heart condition and that he has run out of medicine.
The group demanded that France release its prisoners and said a list of names would be given to the French negotiator.
The statement said Sarkozy was responsible for the life of the Frenchman.
A day before the kidnapping, four Sahara Desert nations opened a joint military headquarters in the Algerian city of Tamanrasset to combat terrorism and trafficking.
"At a time when the apostate forces hold their special meeting in Tamanrasset to fight jihad and the mujahedeen ... a group of mujahdeen managed to kidnap Michel Germaneau," the al-Qaida statement said.