Al Qaeda claims it kidnapped Spanish aid workers


Madrid : In an audio tape sent to the Al Jazeera channel, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, has claimed responsibility for last month’s kidnapping of three Spanish aid workers in Mauritania.

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“Two units of the valiant mujahideen managed to kidnap four Europeans in two distinct operations: the first in Mali where Frenchman Pierre Camatte was seized on Nov 25, and the second in Mauritania where three Spaniards were held on Nov 29,” the spokesperson, who identified himself as Saleh Abu Mohammad, said in the message sent to Al Jazeera Tuesday.

Abu Mohammad said AQIM would send letters to the French and Spanish governments listing the conditions for the hostages’ release, Al Jazeera reported.

Albert Vilalta, 35, Alicia Gamez, 35, and Roque Pascual, 50, who work for Barcelona-Accio Solidaria, were abducted while transporting humanitarian aid on the highway that links Nouakchott, Mauritania’s capital, to Nouadhibou, a city in the country’s northern region.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said the government considered the claim by AQIM to be credible.

“Now, we have to wait,” Moratinos said in a press conference in Brussels, where he attended a meeting of European Union ministers.

The terrorist group has not contacted the Spanish government, Moratinos said.

“There has been no contact yet, and we will continue working as we have done from the beginning for the release of our nationals,” the foreign minister said.

Members of the Caravana Solidaria, or Solidarity Caravan, said the group had taken hard the news that their fellow aid workers were in the hands of AQIM.

“You can imagine our mood. We are depressed,” Barcelona-Accio Solidaria spokesperson Josep Ramon Gimenez told EFE from Dakar, the capital of Senegal, where the caravan ended its humanitarian aid mission.

The aid caravan’s members plan to fly to Spain Tuesday night, Gimenez said.

“Happily, we have been able to finish the mission that took us, after Mauritania, to Senegal and Gambia,” Gimenez said.

This was the ninth year that Caravana Solidaria delivered medical and school supplies to the African countries.