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Video shows that Italian held by Al-Qaeda is alive: sources

An Italian hostage kidnapped on February 2 in Algeria by the North African Al-Qaeda branch, is shown to be alive in a new video, Malian sources close to the case said today.

world Updated: May 02, 2011 17:11 IST

An Italian hostage kidnapped on February 2 in Algeria by the North African Al-Qaeda branch, is shown to be alive in a new video, Malian sources close to the case said on Monday.

"New evidence exists that the Italian hostage kidnapped in the beginning of February in Algeria and held in the Sahel, is alive. A video arrived," said one of the sources.

A separate source confirmed the information and said: "The evidence of life is a video sent by the kidnappers."

Italian tourist Maria Sandra Mariani, 53, kidnapped in south-east Algeria, was shown to be alive in an audio recording broadcast by Al-Arabiya television in Dubai on February 18.

According to these sources Mariani is being held by a combat unit (katiba) of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb led by one of the group's radical leaders Abou Zeid.

Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama Bin Laden was killed on Sunday in a firefight with covert US forces in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, northeast of the capital Islamabad.

The death of the head of the network has been hailed in the West as a major blow against terrorism, but also raises fears of reprisals and places hostages in more danger.

Abou Zeid is believed responsible for a series of kidnappings including that of British Edwin Dyer who was executed in June 2009, and five French, a Madagascan and a Togolese kidnapped in Niger in September 2010.

Three of these hostages were released and four of the French kidnapped remain in the hands of AQMI.

The north-African branch of the terrorist network wants the withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan for their release as had been demanded by Bin Laden.