Al-Qaeda splinter group wants $39 mln to release Western hostages

Al-Qaeda splinter group wants $39 mln to release Western hostages

PanARMENIAN.Net - An Al-Qaeda splinter group wants 30 million euros ($39 million) to free three European aid workers kidnapped in Algeria in October, a Malian source close to the mediators said on Saturday, AFP reported.

"The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa is demanding 30 million euros to free two Spanish nationals and the Italian woman," the source said.

The kidnapping of two Spanish nationals and an Italian woman was staged in Tindouf, western Algeria, in a refugee camp run by the Polisario Front which seeks Western Sahara's independence from Morocco.

The Front had initially blamed the kidnapping on Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

But on December 12, a video showing armed men flanking two women - one Spanish and the other Italian - and a Spanish man was made public by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa.

The splinter group is lead by Malians and Mauritanians, according to experts.

The group on Saturday claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a police base in southern Algeria which left 23 people wounded according to the paramilitary gendarmerie. One of them was in serious condition.

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