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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — French President Francois Hollande said Wednesday the terrorists who beheaded a French citizen in Algeria represent a global threat that must be stopped.
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, the visibly upset president said France would continue to fight terrorism despite the extremists' call for the killing of its citizens.
"This particular group ... they don't strike only those who don't think like they do, they also strike Muslims ... they rape, they kill," Hollande said. "It is for this reason that the fight the international community needs to wage versus terrorism knows no borders."
Hollande addressed world leaders shortly after learning of the grisly death of Herve Gourdel at the hands of an Algerian extremist group aligned with the Islamic State that operates in Syria and Iraq. He changed the focus of his speech in the hours before ascending the podium.
He praised the 55-year-old Gourdel as a man devoted to mountain climbing who paid with his life for his decision to go mountaineering in Algeria.
"He thought he would be able to pursue his passion," Hollande said. "But he was abducted and he was beheaded."
A video released by a U.S. terrorism watchdog showed Algerian extremists known as Jund-al-Khilafah decapitating Gourdel after France ignored their demand to stop airstrikes in Iraq. The group's mento, the Islamic State, recently beheaded two American journalists and a British aid worker in videos that have drawn wide condemnation.
Hollande said France will continue its military operation in part to preserve the nation's honor.
"France is going through a tragedy," he said "But France will never give in to blackmail, to pressure, to barbaric acts."
He said that France is grappling with the question of whether it will "remain spectators" or take an active role in trying to establish justice.
"If we don't respond, or respond too weakly, then the terrorists will continue," he said.
Earlier, Hollande asked the French public to be vigilant in the coming days because of the increased threat.