Al Qaeda's North African wing have threatened to execute a French hostage if four al Qaeda prisoners being held in Mali were not released within 20 days.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said Pierre Kamat would be killed if its demand was not met, the group said on a website used by al-Qaeda linked organizations.
"The Mujahideen have decided to inform the French and Malian governments of their only condition and demand for the release of the French hostage Pierre Kamat, which is the release of our four prisoners arrested by Mali several months ago," the statement posted Sunday said.
By the end of the 20-day period, which started Sunday, "both governments will be fully responsible for the French hostage's life," the group added.
Kamat was kidnapped in Mali on November 25 last year and the group claimed his kidnapping as well as the kidnapping of three Spaniards.
Last May, AQIM executed British hostage Edwin Dyer, who was kidnapped on the border between Mali and Niger in January 2009.
"We call upon the French public and the family of the kidnapped to put pressure on the Sarkozy government and to prevent it from committing the stupidity which was committed by (British Prime Minister) Gordon Brown against the British citizen," the group said.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in Algeria and several other countries in the region.
It has extended its territory in recent years to include Mauritania, at the western end of the Sahara desert. In December 2007 it killed four French tourists, prompting the cancellation of off-road automobile race the Dakar Rally in 2008.