Swiss hostage still alive, says Malian former negotiator
The former negotiator said that the hostage was still being held in the Sahara desert.Bamako -- Swiss national Werner Greitner, kidnapped by Al Qaeda's North African branch, is still alive three weeks after the group killed a British hostage, a Malian former negotiator told AFP Thursday.
"The Swiss tourist is still alive. I can even tell you he is being treated well," the local Malian official, who was involved in the negotiations to release the two other hostages held by the group, the German Marianne Petzold and Greitner's wife Gabriella, told AFP.
The former negotiator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Greitner was still being held in the Sahara desert, "north of Taoudenni" a town in Mali's far north in the border zone with Algeria and Mauritania.
He also provided details about the killing May 31 of British hostage Edwin Dyer, whom Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said they killed because London would not meet their demands.
"The British hostage was decapitated (...) It was Abou Zeid (a leader of Al Qaeda in North Africa) who passed on the message through an authenticated channel," he said.
The group around Algerian-born Mohamed Abou Zeid is believed to be the one which held the four European tourists kidnapped in Niger in January.
The Malian source said Abou Zeid wanted to open negotiations for Greitner's release, but he added that there was no official contact between the Al Qaeda figure and mediators.
In a statement posted on an Islamic website earlier this month Al Qaeda's North African branch demanded the release of Islamic radical Abu Qatada.