Algerian Islamists want 30 million euros to free western hostages
An Al-Qaeda splinter group wants 30 million euros ($39 million) to free three European aid workers kidnapped in Algeria in October, a source close to the mediators said on Saturday.
"The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa is demanding 30 million euros to free two Spanish nationals and the Italian woman," the source said.
"Their respective countries know about this."
The kidnapping was staged in Tindouf, western Algeria, in a refugee camp run by the Polisario Front which seeks Western Sahara's independence from Morocco.
The Front initially blamed the kidnapping on Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
On December 12, a video showing armed men flanking two women -- one Spanish and the other Italian -- and a Spanish man was made public by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad.in West Africa (Jamat Tawhid Wal Jihad Fi Garbi Afriqqiya).
Security sources said it had broken off from the main group AQIM in order to spread jihad to west Africa and not confine themselves just to the Maghreb or Sahel regions.
The group also released another video showing six dark-skinned, turbaned men speaking of their ideological references, including Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar but putting more emphasis on historical figures of west African Islam.
The group on Saturday claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a police base in southern Algeria which left 23 people wounded according to the paramilitary gendarmerie. One of them was in serious condition.