By kidnapping European tourists in the Sahara, an Algerian Islamic guerrilla group is seeking an international profile as its war against authorities loses ground, analysts and diplomats said on Thursday. Algeria said on Wednesday it had stormed a hideout of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), a hardline Islamic militant group relatively unknown abroad, and freed 17 European hostages. Fifteen other European tourists are still being held by the same organisation in Algeria’s Sahara desert, their fate unknown. The band of around 300 GSPC fighters wants to overthrow the Algerian government to create a purist Islamic state, and attack Western interests in the region. “They want international recognition. They’ve lost the military battle in Algeria and are taking it abroad,” said journalist Mounir Boudjema, an expert on Algerian rebel groups. Full Story
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