Western hostages appear in Mali

Aug. 22, 2012 at 12:24 PM
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TIMBUKTU, Mali, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- A Dutch man abducted by Islamic rebels in northern Mali said his government's policies on al-Qaida were to blame for his abduction, a report suggests.

Al-Jazeera broadcast a video showing three men said to be British, Dutch and Swedish captives of Ansar Dine, a militant group with ties to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

Dutch captive Sjaak Rijke reportedly told the Arab broadcaster that the fight between the government in the Netherlands and al-Qaida was the reason for his abduction. All three men suggested there were negotiations under way to secure their release.

The video contained audio but it was dampened by correspondent narrative. All three men were shown in traditional desert garb and accompanied by cloaked gunmen waving al-Qaida's banner.

AQIM claimed responsibility for their kidnapping in November from Timbuktu.

Islamic rebels from the north of the country were criticized by the international community for destroying protected heritage sites in Timbuktu. The destruction was compared to the razing of the giant Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, at the hands of the Taliban in 2001.

Malian leaders have sought to gain more control over northern regions of the country. A civilian government was toppled by coup in April.

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