In a fresh ultimatum demanding release of four terrorists imprisoned in Mali by March 1, north African wing of the Al Qaeda has offered to free two of the six European hostages in exchange.
The Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has set new deadlines of February 20 and March 1 for France and Italy respectively offering to free their nationals it has been holding captive for more than two months to secure the release of its members from Mali jails, according to a statement posted on Saturday on SITE, extremists' websites monitoring group.
The statement came after Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure said on Thursday that his government was working for peaceful solution of the crisis. Ruling out military operations, the President said efforts were on to secure the release of all the hostages either by paying ransom or by freeing AQIM prisoners.
61-year-old Frechman Pierre Camatte was taken from his hotel in Menaka, around 1,500 km from Mali capital Barnako in November. The Italian Sergio Cicala, 65, and his wife Philomene Pawelgba Kabore were abducted Dec 18, while three Spanish aid workers were kidnapped on November 29.
In an earlier ultimatum issued Jan 11, the terrorist group had threatened to kill the French hostage in case the Mali government fails to free its members within 20 days.
The new statement, however, does not mention about the release of Cicala's wife and the Spanish volunteers- Albert Vilalta, 35, Alicia Gamez, 35, and Roque Pascual, 50, who work for Barcelona-Accio Solidaria and were abducted while transporting humanitarian aid to Senegal.