Ransoms account for 95 percent of terrorists' funds: Algerian minister (2)

12:58, September 22, 2010      

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Earlier this month, an aide to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said that Spain paid an eight-million-euro ransom to free three nationals abducted by al-Qaida's wing in North Africa.

The amount was the biggest sum paid by any country to Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Kamel Rezag Bara told Spain's El Mundo daily. Madrid has never acknowledged the deal.

He also said that Italy also paid 3.6 million euros for the release of two hostages in May, while Austria paid 2.5 million euros last year for the release of two citizens.

The AQIM insurgents drew international focus when they kidnapped a number of Westerners last year and used them as a bargain tool to see their demands met.

The group in July said it killed 78-year-old French hostage Michel Germaneau, who was kidnapped in Niger in April, in retaliation for the killing of six of its members in a raid by Mauritanian troops supported by French military forces that aimed to free him.

They also killed a British national they kidnapped on the border between Niger and Mali and claimed responsibility for killing a U.S. aid worker in Nouakchott last June.

The militants also threatened to kill a French man they held hostage on Nov. 25 before letting him go in February only after the Malian government freed four al-Qaida militants whose release was set by their comrades as a condition in return for sparing the hostage's life.

Algeria per se has faced an increasing threat by Islamist militants since 1990s, and security forces have recently stepped up military operations against pro-al-Qaida groups.

Source: Xinhua
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