News24

Bodies of abducted Frenchmen arrive in Paris

2011-01-12 12:36

Paris - The bodies of the two Frenchmen abducted and killed in Niger over the weekend arrived back in France on Wednesday on an Air France aircraft that landed at Paris's Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport.

The coffins of Vincent Delory and Antoine De Leocour, both 25, were due to be received by members of their families and France's minister for co-operation Henri Raincourt. There, the bodies were to be blessed in a private ceremony.

De Leocour was a former aid worker who had been due to marry a Niger woman next week.

Delory, who was to have been his best man, had arrived in Niamey for the wedding just hours before gunmen snatched them from a downtown restaurant on Friday night.

They died as French and Nigerien troops tried to rescue them.

"We have every reason to think that the hostages were executed by their kidnappers," French Defence Minister Alain Juppe said.

Officials in France and Mali, where the final assault on the kidnappers took place after they were chased across the border by Niger forces, have both said that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was behind the abduction.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has said that Niger forces chased the kidnappers as far as the border before asking the French to help after they crossed into Mali.