Spaniards held by Al-Qaeda are still alive: NGO

16th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

The families of two Spanish aid workers held hostage by Al-Qaeda in Mali have received proof that they are still alive, a Spanish non-governmental organisation said Monday.

The news comes two days after a Malian official said a radical cell of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has executed two Western hostages, is threatening the lives of the two Spaniards, who are held by another branch of AQIM.

"We know that the families have been able to see some proof that the hostages are alive," the head of the Barcelona-based Accio Solidaria, Francesc Osan, told Catalan radio station RAC1.

"The only information that (the families) are giving us is that the hostages are well and that negotiations are continuing."

Albert Vilalta, 35, and Roque Pascual, 50, were among three Accio Solidaria workers kidnapped in Mauritania last November and handed over to AQIM, the North African branch of Osama bin Laden's terror network, in exchange for payment.

AQIM released the third hostage, 39-year-old Alicia Gamez, in March.

Another branch of the AQIM, led by Algerian Abdelhamid Abu Zeid, "is currently doing everything possible to endanger the lives of the two Spanish hostages," a Malian official involved in negotiating the release of hostages told AFP on Saturday.

Abu Zeid's group has taken a hard line since seven militants were killed in a joint French-Mauritanian military raid on July 22 on his AQIM, who were holding a Frenchman hostage.

Three days later the militants announced they had killed the hostage, Michel Germaneau, 78.

Abu Zeid's cell also executed Briton Edwyn Dyer 14 months ago.

© 2010 AFP

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