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French hostage held by al Qaeda group 'alive and well'

Video by Shirli SITBON

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-22

The Frenchman held hostage by an al Qaeda group in Mali is alive and well, a Malian negotiator said on condition of anonymity on Sunday, following the expiry of an ultimatum set by the kidnappers.

AFP - Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure said Sunday he had hopes for the freedom of six Europeans taken hostage by an Al-Qaeda group.
   
Toure's statement came after a Malian negotiator said a Frenchman held by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was alive and well, after an ultimatum set by the group expired.
   
"I have hope for (the release) of all the hostages," Toure told journalists.
   
The negotiator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Pierre Camatte was well.
   
"The French hostage is well treated, he is alive. We have been assured of that by those who are holding him," the negotiator told AFP.
   
"The French hostage is well, and so are the others," he added.
   
Camatte is being held with three Spanish hostages captured in Mauritania in November and an Italian couple kidnapped on December 17, also in Mauritania.
   
On January 30, AQIM announced a "final ultimatum" for Camatte, extending a previous deadline to February 20, threatening to kill him if their demands were not met.
   
AQIM has demanded the release of four prisoners in exchange for Camatte's life, and on Friday a judicial source in Mali said they were "legally free", having completed their sentences.
   
The threats from AQIM are being taken seriously after the death of British tourist Edwin Dyer in June last year, killed by the group after six months in captivity after London refused to agree to the Islamists' demands.

Date created : 2010-02-22

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