RealNews

European Desert Hostages May Soon Be Freed in Mali

Fifteen European tourists held for almost five months in Algeria’s Sahara desert by suspected Islamic rebels could be freed soon after their captors were given safe passage to Mali, an Algerian daily said on Sunday. The adventure holiday-makers, comprising 10 Germans, four Swiss and one Dutchman, were kidnapped in late February and early March while traveling without guides in separate groups in the North African country’s south. “To avoid the loss of lives we were forced to let the terrorists go free in exchange for the safe liberation of the 15 hostages,” El Watan cited security sources as telling the influential newspaper. Security sources said the kidnappers, suspected of belonging to the hardline Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), accepted the armed forces’ offer to free the hostages as long as they were given safe passage to neighboring Mali. The GSPC, suspected by Algeria of having ties to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, has been fighting authorities to set up a purist Islamic state. Full Story

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