Al Qaida Groups Claims Responsibility for Kidnappings

Posted December 9th, 2011 at 10:25 pm (UTC-5)
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The North African branch of al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for two kidnappings in Mali last month but denied being involved in a recent abduction of foreigners in Algeria.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb said it was behind the kidnapping of two French tourists from their hotel room in eastern Mali on November 24.

It also said it was responsible for a kidnapping the following day when gunmen abducted three foreigners — Dutch, Swedish, and South African nationals — from a restaurant in Timbuktu. The gunmen killed a German who tried to resist.

The militant group's statement was reported by the Mauritania news agency ANI on Thursday, but it could not be independently verified. The news agency released photos on Friday purportedly showing the two groups of hostages.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb said it was not responsible for the kidnapping of three European aid workers taken in October from a refugee camp in Algeria.

The militant group operates across the Sahel, a strip of semi-arid land that separates the Sahara Desert from the rest of Africa. It has claimed responsibility for several kidnappings in the region in recent years.

Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Algeria are working together against the group that began in Algeria in 1998 as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. The name was changed following the September 2001 attacks

in the United States to more closely ally themselves with the broader al-Qaida movement.