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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Chad Rebels Hold Steve Godbold

Wed 24 Oct 2007, 15:48 GMT

By Nick Tattersall

DAKAR, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Chadian rebels holding hostage a U.S. missionary said on Wednesday they suspected he was a Chadian government spy but intended to free him soon.
The missionary, identified by local evangelical church colleagues as Steve Godbold, was seized in the northern Tibesti mountains near the Libyan border more than a week ago by the rebel Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT).

"He entered our territory without authorisation. He was contacted by the regime in (the Chadian capital) N'Djamena to find out information ... and to create divisions within our movement," MDJT leader Aboubakar Choua Dazi told Reuters.

"Our group took him to find out why he has come ... In two or three days we will conclude and then we'll see what preparations we can make to free him," Choua Dazi said by phone from southern Libya. Godbold is being well treated, he said.

U.S. officials have said Godbold was working as a sub-contractor on a U.S. government-financed development project to drill water wells in the Tibesti region.

GSPC MEMBERS STILL CAPTIVE

Believed to have a wealth of information on Islamist activities, Saifi was handed to Libya after protracted negotiations before being taken into custody in Algeria.

Choua Dazi said the MDJT was still holding two other GSPC figures, an Algerian who was Saifi's deputy and a Malian, both captured with Saifi after fleeing neighbouring countries.

"Because they are Africans, we would prefer to release them back to their home countries than anywhere else," he said.

"But our position has always been clear. If the United States shows interest in contacting us, we are ready. But until now we have had no direct contact, just through intermediaries."

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

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