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Saturday, July 23, 2011

AQIM's Abdelhamid Abou Zeid Negotiating for release of Maria Sandra Mariani

Bamako: Italian hostage Maria Sandra Mariani, kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in February, is shown alive in a video given to negotiators in Bamako.

The 53-year-old Mariani does not speak in the video, but is shown wearing a veil and pink robes, sitting on the sand with her hands crossed. Three guns are visible behind her, but the men holding them are concealed.

A source close to the mediation who was in possession of the video said it had been given to "mediators in a country neighbouring Mali", without divulging the date or place where it was filmed.

"Negotiations are on the right path for Mariani to be freed," he added, saying a ransom payment was at the centre of the talks.

In May, sources close to the case said a first video had been released, showing the hostage was safe and sound.

"It is the same person, but she doesn’t have the same clothes or posture in the two videos," said a Malian source who saw both videos.

Mariani was kidnapped in southeastern Algeria near the town of Djanet on February 02. On February 18 she said she was alive and in the hands of AQIM in a voice recording broadcast by Dubai-based television station Al-Arabiya.

Corroborating sources say she is being held by an AQIM unit led by Abou Zeid, a leader of the organisation renowned for his brutality.

He is held responsible for several kidnappings including Briton Edwyn Dyer who was executed in June 2009 and that of five French, a Madagascan and a Togolese kidnapped in northern Niger in September 2010.

Three of the latter, a French woman and the two Africans, were released in February while the other four remain in the hands of the north African al Qaeda branch.

The Rest @ Online News

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