Al-Qaeda group wants two Mauritanians released for hostages
The pair are currently being held in one of the countries of the Sahel region that includes Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Algeria, Libya and Chad.
Bamako -- Al-Qaeda's North African branch is demanding the release of two Mauritanian members as one of the conditions for freeing two Canadians and four European tourists it has kidnapped, an informed Mali source said Friday.
"One of the conditions set by Al-Qaeda to free the hostages is the release of two Mauritanian members of the group," the source said on condition of anonymity.
The source said the two Mauritanians are currently being held in one of the countries of the Sahel region that includes Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Algeria, Libya and Chad.
Canada has enlisted the help of several countries, including Mali, in an effort to secure the release of its two nationals, one of them Robert Fowler, the UN Secretary General's special envoy to Niger.
The two Canadians disappeared mid-December in Niger while the four European tourists were kidnapped last month on the Mali-Niger border.
A US group which monitors Islamist websites said earlier this week that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb had released a written statement and photos of a Swiss couple, a German woman and a British man they said they were holding.
Al-Jazeera television reported Tuesday that the group said it had seized the two Canadians in December and the four tourists in January.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb seeks to unify armed Islamist groups in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco with emerging groups in sub-Saharan African countries bordering that desert.
The group claimed a series of deadly suicide bombings in Algeria last year.