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Algeria has kidnappers of western tourists surrounded

Monday, June 6, 2003

CAIRO Algeria has reported that its military has surrounded abductors of 15 European tourists held hostage since February.

Algerian officials said the tourists were being held in the Sahara desert near the Libya border. They said the abductors have been located and placed under siege.

"There are no contacts, no negotiations," Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem said. "The kidnappers are surrounded."

The Westerners were believed being held by the Salafist Brigade for Combat and Call. The Salafists has been linked to Al Qaida.

Last month, Algerian forces freed 17 other Western tourists held in a separate location by the Salafists. All of the Salafist captors, about 10 people, were killed.

Last week, Islamic insurgents killed 22 people in less than one day. The victims included 10 Algerian police officers in an ambush near the city of Tizi Ouzou, about 110 kilometres east of Algiers.

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