Al-Qaeda claims responsibility for Mali kidnappings

North Africa’s local branch of al-Qaeda denied it has kidnapped three foreign aid workers in Algeria, but confirmed it was behind two kidnappings in Mali, according to a statement carried by a Mauritanian news agency.

The statement, purportedly by al-Qaeda in North Africa, said the group was focusing its efforts against French and Malian interests and had nothing to do with the October kidnapping of Spanish and Italian aid workers in southern Algeria.

The group’s statement was carried out on Thursday by Nouakchott Information Agency, a private news agency, that has carried the group’s statements before, but its veracity could not be independently confirmed.

“We deny all responsibility in the kidnapping of Europeans from the camp in Tindouf,” the statement said, referring to a refugee camp in Algeria for those fleeing the conflict in the Western Sahara, where the local population is agitating for independence from Morocco.

The militant group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a Dutch, Swedish and South African national from a restaurant in Timbuktu the next day. A German national was executed when he refused to get into a waiting truck.

It also claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of two French tourists from their hotel room in eastern Mali on the night of November 24 and alleged that they were French spies.

The statement said the kidnappings were carried out in revenge for recent Malian attacks against members of al-Qaeda, as well as France’s aggression in the Sahel region — a possible reference to French military strikes against the militants.

The kidnappings in Mali indicate that the group is moving into areas which it previously had left alone. This comes after the Malian government launched a number of operations against the militant group, in cooperation with France and the United States.

“It is time you learned your lesson and stop killing mujahedin and their families to please the impious crusaders,” the statement said.

The spike in kidnappings in the Sahel region could also be related to competition between different factions of militants.

An Algerian daily last month carried an interview with two captured militants that said three different groups were competing with each other on who could kidnap more foreigners.

AQIM grew out of armed Islamic groups fighting the Algerian government in the 1990s and eventually expanded its operations to the lightly populated empty wastes of the Sahel region where they made money on smuggling and kidnapping.

In 2006, the group announced it had joined al-Qaeda. About 50 Europeans and Canadians have been kidnapped and ransomed by the group, earning it an estimated $130-million in less than a decade. — Sapa-AP

Staff Reporter
Guest Author

Salie-Hlophe accuses Goliath of lying and racism

In response to Goliath’s gross misconduct complaint, Salie-Hlophe says Goliath has ‘an unhealthy obsession with my marriage’

Treasury is still seeking SAA funds

The government has committed an additional R2-billion to the airline, but has yet to pay it out

‘There were no marks on his neck’, Neil Aggett inquest...

The trade unionist’s partner at the time he was detained at John Vorster Square says she now believes his death was not a suicide

Press Releases

Boosting safety for cargo and drivers

The use of a telematics system for fleet vehicles has proved to be an important tool in helping to drive down costs and improve efficiency, says MiX Telematics Africa.

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.