Al Qaeda holding Spanish hostages

Yesterday the Spanish government said it was taking seriously the announcement made in a audio recording by a spokesman for al Qaeda and replayed on the al-Jazeera TV station. In the recording Al-Qaeda spokesman Saleh Abu Mohammad said his organisation had “managed” to kidnap four Europeans in two separate operations. He said “the first was carried out on 25th November when the French man Pierre Camatte was kidnapped, and the second ocurred in Mauritania where on 29th November three Spaniards were kidnapped”. The spokesman concluded the recording with the announcement that France and Spain will be informed of the “legitimate demands” of the group.

Foreign Minister Moratinos told the media yesterday that the Government were treating the recording as credible and that the families of Roque Pascual, Isabel Gámez y Albert Vilalta had been notified of this latest development.

Al Qaeda in the Magreb is the group believed to have been responsible for the murder of British hostage Edwin Dyer last June.

The Spanish government has set up a special committee made up of secretaries of state and representatives from the Home Office, and Foreign and Defence ministries and the CNI secret intelligence services.