Malian who kidnapped Spaniards soon to be repatriated: source

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Mauritania is to imminently extradite a Malian national convicted of kidnapping three Spanish aid workers and turning them over to Al-Qaeda, a highly placed source in Nouakchott said on Monday.

"He will be handed to his country tonight or tomorrow (Tuesday) morning," the official told AFP, without revealing whether Omar Sid'Ahmed Ould Hamma, 52, was in the capital or on the Mauritania-Mali border.

A Mauritanian judicial source had told AFP on Sunday that he had already been repatriated, but judicial and security sources in Mali said Monday that he was not yet in the country.

"We have accepted to render him to Mali because we cannot refuse anything to our Malian brothers, with whom we have excellent relations," the highly placed source told AFP, citing a 1963 bilateral judicial accord.

Hamma, also known as "Omar the Sahrawi", was convicted of kidnapping the three Spanish aid workers on November 29, 2009 while they were delivering aid on behalf of Barcelona-based group Accio Solidaria.

They wound up in the hands of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which released one of the aid workers, Alicia Gamez, 39, in March, but still holds Roque Pascual, 50, and Albert Vilaltam, 35, in northern Mali.

Last month six AQIM members were killed in a failed Mauritanian-French raid in Mali on July 22 to free a French hostage, Michel Germaneau. AQIM later said it executed the 78-year-old in revenge for the deaths of its members.

© 2010 AFP

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