BAMAKO, Mali (AP):
Members of a radical Islamic group in northern Mali are claiming to have executed one of the Algerian diplomats they kidnapped five months ago, when their fighters raided the Algerian consulate in the city of Gao.
The information could not be independently verified, and the Algerian Foreign Affairs Ministry said they are investigating the rebels' claim.
Islamist leader Oumar Ould Hamaha told The Associated Press by telephone late Saturday that the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (known by the French acronym MUJAO), had executed the diplomat in order to teach Algeria a lesson. The group had demanded that Algeria, Mali's northern neighbour, release the members of their group who had recently been arrested.
"We did this so that Algeria learns a lesson and understands that when we give an ultimatum, they need to take us seriously," said Hamaha. "And so that other countries know that when given an ultimatum in regards to their hostages, they need to act."
In Algeria, the ministry said Sunday that a press release written by the MUJAO announcing the execution "is currently the subject of testing needed to ensure its authenticity."