2nd September, 2012
Islamic extremists said Sunday they have executed an Algerian diplomat who was kidnapped during their takeover of northern Mali, according to a statement published by a Mauritanian news agency.
Tahar Touati, the Algerian vice-consul “was executed this morning (Saturday) at dawn,” said the statement from the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) published by online news agency ANI.
The agency often carries reliable information on extremist groups in the region.
“The Algerian government must take complete responsibility for the consequences of its stubbornness and the misguided and irresponsible decisions of its president and its generals,” read the statement.
The communique was also posted on Internet sites in Algeria.
MUJAO had on August 24 given an ultimatum to Algeria, threatening to kill the hostage after Algiers rejected its demands for the release of three jihadists arrested in the south of the country.
“The execution of the diplomat came after the expiry of an ultimatum given to the Algerian government,” said the statement.
“Algerian negotiators refused to agree on a deal to release the hostages at the last minute,” it added.
Algerian authorities have said they are verifying the reports of the diplomat’s execution.
Sunday’s statement “is currently the focus of the necessary verification to ensure its authenticity,” the Algerian foreign ministry said in a statement released by the official APS news agency.
“Contact has not been broken” with the kidnappers, it added.
MUJAO, an armed jihadist group which first surfaced in December 2011, presenting itself as a splinter group of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is one of several extremist groups which seized Mali’s north five months ago.
They claimed the April 5 kidnapping of seven Algerian diplomats from a consulate in the town of Gao, one of the main northern cities which has fallen into the extremists’ hands.
In May they demanded the release of Islamist militants detained in Algeria and a sum of 15 million euros in return for freeing the Algerians.
Three of the hostages were freed on July 12.
A video MUJAO released on August 26 showed one of the four remaining hostages pleading with the government to save his life.