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Al-Qaida-Linked Group in Africa Claims Hostages in Good Health


Map of Mauritania

Map of Mauritania

On Tuesday, the group claimed responsibility for last month's kidnappings of a French citizen, Pierre Camatte, in Mali and three Spanish aid workers, Albert Vilalta, Roque Pascual and Alicia Gamez, in Mauritania.

An al-Qaida-linked group in North Africa says four Europeans it is holding are in good health.

The group - al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb - released a statement posted on Islamic Web sites Wednesday. It said the hostages are being treated according to sharia, or Islamic law.

On Tuesday, the group claimed responsibility for last month's kidnappings of a French citizen, Pierre Camatte, in Mali and three Spanish aid workers, Albert Vilalta, Roque Pascual and Alicia Gamez, in Mauritania.

A spokesman for the al-Qaida-linked group made the claim in an audiotape obtained by al-Jazeera television. He said France and Spain would be informed later of the group's demands.

The Spanish government has said it believes the tape and the claim are authentic.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is a Sunni Muslim organization formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. The group began as an insurrection against Algeria's military rulers after they canceled parliamentary elections in 1992.

The United States has warned that al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb poses a threat to Westerners across Africa's Sahel region. U.S. officials blame the group for the fatal shooting of an American in Mauritania in June and for other killings.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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