Sahara hostages' health critical

Four of the 14 Western tourists being held hostage by Algerian kidnappers are said to be seriously ill.

    The desert heat is said to be exacting a heavy price from the hostages

    Sources close to mediators negotiating their release said the four were very ill and that their immediate release was a necessity.

    “It is urgent for us that they are released on humanitarian grounds,” the French news-agency AFP quoted the source as saying.

    Altogether, 14 hostages from Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland are being held by members of a rebel Islamic group.

    The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) is said to have seized 32 tourists trekking without guides in the southern Algerian desert in February and March this year.

    While 17 of the kidnapped tourists were freed in a raid by Algerian special forces in May, one German hostage died last month of heatstroke in the blazing sun.

    'It is urgent for us that they are released on humanitarian grounds'

    --informed source

    Mediators have been negotiating the release of the 14 remaining hostages with the kidnappers without much success.

    The abductors are reportedly demanding about 5.5 million dollars in ransom for the release of each of the captives.

    But with a breakthrough still elusive, local newspapers said a military intervention is being planned to rescue the hostages.

    The kidnappers crossed the southern border into Mali and have been negotiating the release of their captives with local power brokers including former rebel leader Iyad Ag Ghali.

    “If by Thursday or Friday at the latest there is no release of the sick hostages or the elderly, contact with the abductors will be halted to allow the military to take up the case,” the police commissioner of the northern Mali town of Kidal told the daily El Watan.



    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.