RealNews

Algeria Says No Talks with Tourist Kidnappers

Algeria said on Saturday it was not negotiating with armed rebels holding 15 European tourists hostage in the Sahara desert but reiterated that the kidnappers were surrounded. “There are no contacts, no negotiations,” Foreign Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem said. “The kidnappers are surrounded.” “Our aim is to free the hostages safe and sound,” he told Reuters after a joint news conference with his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini at Algiers airport. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said earlier this week he was ready to leave a way out to the rebels, believed to be members of a hardline Islamic militant group, and added they have been located along with the tourists. The holidaymakers — 10 Germans, four Swiss and one Dutchman — are believed held near Illizi, about 1,200 km (750 miles) south of the capital Algiers, by the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). The group, little known abroad, has been fighting Algerian authorities for several years to set up a purist Islamist state. It is thought to have ties to al Qaeda. Full Story

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