Three Algerian hostages freed in Mali: minister
7/16/2012 12:10:01 AM -
ALGIERS (AFP) - Three of the seven Algerians abducted by Islamist fighters from the country's consulate in the town of Gao in northeast Mali have been freed, Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci said Sunday.
Medelci said he was hopeful they would soon return to Algeria, adding he could not release any more details for security reasons.
His statement confirmed an announcement of the release made on Thursday to AFP by a spokesman for the Movement of Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).
At one point last week, MUJAO said it had broken off talks over the release of the hostages.
But on Thursday, spokesman Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui said they would release three of the captives, though he did not say when, where, nor which of the seven would be freed.
The release of the three hostages means there are now 16 hostages still held by Islamist groups in the Sahel region of northern Africa.
Last month, MUJAO claimed responsibility for an attack in Algeria -- against the regional headquarters of the paramilitary police in the town of Ouargla in which one person was killed and three were wounded.
It has said that it will target for attack any countries who join a proposed military intervention force mooted to recapture northern Mali from the Islamist forces who now hold it.