Algeria kidnapped diplomats doing well

2012-04-24 07:58 Algiers - Seven Algerian diplomats kidnapped in Gao in northeastern Mali are in good health, Algeria's foreign minister said on Monday, adding that contacts had been established with the kidnappers.

The Algerian consul and six colleagues were seized April 5 and taken to an unknown destination in a brazen kidnapping claimed by al-Qaeda dissident group, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao).

"The information we've received shows the Algerian hostages are doing well," Mourad Medelci told state-run news agency APS.

He said Algerian authorities were in contact with kidnappers and were monitoring the health of the hostages.

"We expect this will soon bear fruit," he said.

A Mali security official in Bamako told AFP that an Islamist group, led by a Malian Tuareg, was negotiating their release with MUJAO.

Ansar Dine, one of the groups that has seized control of much of northern Mali, "is currently involved in negotiations to free the seven employees from the Algerian consulate in Gao," the security official said.

Islamist fighters and Tuareg rebels seized Mali's vast north in the days following a coup in the capital Bamako.

The diplomats' families were repatriated to Algeria after the kidnappings, which Algeria has strongly condemned.

- AFP