BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces detained two
insurgents and cleared five improvised explosive devices during
operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, Jan. 4.
Afghan National Security Forces found and safely cleared one IED in Dehyak district.
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces detained two
insurgents while investigating an IED in Bak district. The IED was
safely cleared and the detained suspects were transferred to a base for
Afghan Border Police and coalition forces found and safely cleared one IED in Gurbuz district.
Afghan Uniformed Police and coalition forces found and safely cleared one IED in Sabari district.
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces found and safely cleared one IED in Mohmand Darah district.
Three Algerian diplomats kidnapped by terrorists in Gao last April
appeared in a new video posted online Tuesday (January 1st) by
The hostages are shown sitting on the ground surrounded by their
armed captors from al-Qaeda splinter group Movement for Tawhid and Jihad
in West Africa (MUJAO).
"We call on the President of the Republic, Mr Abdelaziz Bouteflika,
to find a solution to our situation by accepting the terms of the group
so that we can come back to our families," one captive said.
The hostage added: "We had the opportunity to leave the city of Gao
before we were kidnapped, but on the orders of the Algerian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, we stayed to offer services to the diaspora."
Another of the Algerian diplomats pleaded, "Get us out of this crisis and enable us to come back to our families."
As far as the Algerian government is concerned, discretion remains
the watchword. On Wednesday, it said that contact with the kidnappers
was being maintained through various intermediaries.
Algerian foreign ministry spokesman Amar Belani refused to comment on
the video of the hostages but said that authorities were "endeavouring
to secure the release of the Algerian nationals".
Soon after the Algerians were abducted in Gao, they appeared in a video aired by Al Jazeera,
in which the MUJAO claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. The video
showed the Algerian diplomats in a vehicle with blank expressions, but
apparently in good health.
One month later, the MUJAO issued a ransom demand. They wanted Algeria to release prisoners, as well as a 15m euro ransom.
Three of the hostages were freed in July.
On August 26th, another video released by MUJAO showed one of the
remaining hostages asking the Algerian authorities to save his life. But
the terror group later executed the diplomat, identified as Taher Touati.
The wife of hostage Mourad Guessas has appealed to the terrorists to
free the diplomats. She said that they were merely "innocent, ordinary
civil servants" and urged President Bouteflika to work to free them,
adding they were kidnapped while in the "service of the Algerian state".
Algeria has staunchly opposed the terrorists' ransom demands, with
Algerian Maghreb and African Affairs Minister Abdelkader Messahel saying
last October that there would be "no negotiations with terrorists".
During a session with Parliament's foreign affairs committee last
week, Foreign Minister Mourad Medecli revealed that both the National
Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and Ansar al-Din were
mediating the release of the Algerian diplomats kidnapped in Mali.
Last April, President Bouteflika reportedly approved a large military
operation to free the hostages, according to a December article by El Khabar.
The operation was to be conducted by a few hundred to 3,000 soldiers
along with Special Forces, fighter jets and attack helicopters. El Khabar said that the goal was to free the Algerian
diplomats and strike a serious blow to the armed extremists who had
taken over northern Mali.
The Algerian military operation was cancelled at the last minute.
from MAGHAREBIA By Walid Ramzi in Algiers and Bakari Gueye in Nouakchott for Magharebia – 04/01/13