Algeria: April 30, 2003


 The government has sent 5,000 troops, and hired 300 local trackers and 1700 other civilians, to find the 31 missing European tourists. Based on this effort, the government claims it has located several camps of "terrorist camps" where the Europeans are being held. None of the main Islamic radical groups long active in northern Algeria have been mentioned. Instead, the only group the government has named is a criminal gang headed by self-proclaimed Islamic radical Mokhtar Benmokhtar, who spends most of his time smuggling (cigarettes, weapons, vehicles and anything that will sell.) The Algerian army wants to move on Benmokhtar's camps, but Germany is asking for more time to open negotiations. So far, there has been no reports of ransom, or any other demands, being made by the kidnappers. In fact, it's a little unclear exactly what is going on down here, in the middle of the Sahara desert.


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