Al-Qaeda releases photo of Western hostages

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Al-Qaeda has released a photograph of a Dutchman and four other Western hostages kidnapped in the North African country Mali. The picture, in which the hostages are surrounded by armed men, was sent to the press agency ANI in Mauritania. It is not known when the picture was taken.

Last month the Dutchman was kidnapped with a South African and a Swede in the historic city of Timbuktu. The Dutchman’s partner managed to stay out of the kidnappers' hands. A German tourist who resisted the men was shot dead. Two Frenchmen were kidnapped one day earlier. The North African branch of al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the kidnappings last Thursday. They say the two Frenchmen are spies for the French intelligence agency, but they did not give reason for kidnapping the other three.

Mali’s neighbour Burkina Faso says negotiations for the release of the five are underway. It is not known how the men are.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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