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Algerian Minister Says Missing Tourists Held By Terrorists

Thirty-one European tourists who vanished in the Sahara Desert in February are being held hostage by terrorist groups, a ranking Algerian official said Wednesday. The official said the tourists had been located by the Algerian army. Some 5,000 Algerian troops and 300 local guides were brought in to track down the tourists. The tourists, who had set off in seven separate groups on four-wheel drive vehicles or motorcycles, disappeared in mid-February. None had employed guides. The tourists – 15 Germans, 10 Austrians, four Swiss, one Dutch and a Swede – are being held in the region of Illizi, some 810 miles southeast of Algiers near the Libyan border, the official said on condition he not be named. “They are alive and are being held in several groups separated geographically,” the official told The Associated Press. The official refused to comment on the identities of the captors or to say whether they might belong to an Islamic extremist group. But he called them “terrorist groups,” the term used to refer to Islamic insurgents. Full Story

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