On the same day that some Algerian dailies have remonstrated with surprising timing at the decision by militants of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in Western Africa (MUJAO) to kidnap seven diplomats from Algiers, a MUJAO spokesperson has dictated to France Presse the conditions for the release not only of the Algerian hostages, but of the Italian and Spanish aid workers who were kidnapped on October 23 from a Saharawi camp. The conditions are tough ones: over thirty million euros to free Rossella and Ainhoa and a further fifteen for the Algerian Consulate General di Gao and his seven officials. In the case of the Italian and Spanish aid workers, who were working for two separate NGOs in the Western Sahara, the request reverses recent optimism that progress was being made in secret negotiations under cover of a total news blackout. The huge ransom demanded will come as a reverse to negotiations and lengthen the process. There is no mention of a third hostage, Spanish aid worker Enric Gonyacons, adding a further element of uncertainty.
Nothing is known of where the hostages are being held. The motives behind MUJAO's demands for the release of the seven Algerian diplomats are evident: as well as the money, the freeing of many Islamic militants held in Algeria and in Mauritania is also being demanded. (ANSAmed).