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Spanish hostages are fine: Al Qaeda

The three Spanish aid workers kidnapped nearly two months ago in Mauritania are in good health, says a leader of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) that claimed responsibility for the abduction.

world Updated: Jan 26, 2010 12:36 IST

The three Spanish aid workers kidnapped nearly two months ago in Mauritania are in good health, says a leader of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) that claimed responsibility for the abduction.

Al Jadim Uld Seman, the head of AQIM in Mauritania, spoke to El Periodico newspaper by telephone from prison.

He told the paper he had been briefed on the status of the captives by associates on the outside.

Albert Vilalta, 35, Alicia Gamez, 35, and Roque Pascual, 50, who work for Barcelona-Accio Solidaria, were grabbed Nov 29 while transporting humanitarian aid on the highway that links Nouakchott, Mauritania's capital, to Nouadhibou, the most important city in the country's northern region.

"We're taking very good care of them; they have everything they need. The treatment is impeccable, also for the woman, whom we respect a great deal. We can't even look her in the eyes, as our religion orders," Seman said in Monday's edition of El Periodico.

He said the Spanish people should put pressure on their prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, "so that he doesn't commit the same error as the British government, which let Edwin Dyer die".

Dyer, kidnapped in January 2009 along with three Western tourists, was murdered by an AQIM cell after the British government rejected its request to free reputed Osama bin Laden lieutenant Abu Qatada.

In the interview, Seman accused Spain of allying itself with the US and fighting Islam under the pretext of the anti-terrorism campaign, and he said that "it has to get out of this war because, if not, the consequences will be commensurate with its acts".