Al Qaeda-linked militant group in Mali executes British hostage
The killing of Edwin Dyer underscores the growing threat posed by militants in North Africa with links to global terrorist groups.
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An Al Qaeda-linked militant group says it has executed a British hostage in Mali, and only hours later was reported to have killed eight people near the Algerian capital, underscoring the growing threat that militancy poses in North and West Africa.
Edwin Dyer was vacationing in Niger in late January went he was abducted by militants and taken to neighboring Mali. The militants had threatened to kill Mr. Dyer unless the British government released Abu Qatada, a notorious extremist leader currently awaiting extradition from London. Several deadlines passed and Dyer was not killed, but on Wednesday the group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb announced on a website that it had in fact carried out its threat.
In London, Prime Minister Gordon Brown vowed to root out extremists in North Africa, whose attacks have become more frequent and more widespread. "This tragedy reinforces our commitment to confront terrorism. It strengthens our determination never to concede to the demands of terrorists, nor to pay ransoms," Brown said in statement, according to Agence France-Presse.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which is based in Algeria and joined ranks with Al Qaeda in 2006, has recently stepped up efforts to kidnap foreigners for ransom, as Reuters points out:
In February 2008, Austrian tourists Andrea Kloiber ... and Wolfgang Ebner ... disappeared while on holiday in Tunisia and were held hostage by al Qaeda's North African wing for eight months in a remote desert area of Mali.... The Austrians were freed unharmed eight months later.
In April 2009 two Canadian diplomats and two European tourists held hostage by al Qaeda's north African wing in the Sahara were released after several months in captivity. The group had demanded 20 of its members be freed from detention in Mali and other countries as a condition for releasing the hostages.
His ordeal started with a so-called "show execution" where kidnappers fired a gun just an inch away from the head of a member of his party as they attacked the group's convoy.
He was then taken with three other tourists - two Swiss citizens and a German woman - who were on their way back from a festival of nomad culture at Anderamboukane in Mali on January 22.