- A militant group in Mali, claiming to be affiliated to Al Qaeda, says it has killed British hostage Edwin Dyer today. The killing was condemned in London, Paris and Algiers, with announcements saying the fight against terror in the region would be enhanced.
Mr Dyer who was on vacation in Niger was taken hostage on 22 January along with a Swiss citizen and two other tourists in Niger, close to the border with Mali but was held in Mali.
According to a statement by the so-called "Al-Qaeda's North African network" posted on the Web, the group said it executed the British national on 31 May because the UK government failed to respond to its demands.
The militants had on several occasions threatened to kill Mr Dyer unless the British government released Abu Qatada, a notorious Islamic cleric leader currently awaiting extradition from London.
A statement from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the execution of Mr Dyer reinforces the British's commitment to confront terrorism. "It strengthens our determination never to concede to the demands of terrorists, nor to pay ransoms," Prime Minister Brown said.
Mr Gordon said the UK had strong reason to believe that Mr Dyer was murdered by an al-Qaeda cell in Mali.
"I want those who would use terror against British citizens to know beyond doubt that we and our allies will pursue them relentlessly, and that they will meet the justice they deserve," he said in a statement.
The London government met support from Mali's former colonial power, France. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner "strongly condemned" the assassination and promised to aid British authorities in bringing the responsible terrorists to justice.
"This new incident demonstrated the necessity of a mobilisation of all international and regional actors to intensify the fight against terrorism and strengthen security in the Sahelian-Saharan region," Mr Kouchner said in a statement.
Also the Algiers government today forcefully condemned the attack by the terrorist group that has its roots in the Algerian civil war. The Algiers Foreign Ministry in a statement praised the UK government's "firmness" in treating with the terrorist group and reinstated its call to the international society to help "eradicate terrorism" in the region.
Malian authorities have yet to react to the assassination of a Briton on their territory, but officials in Bamako today told 'AFP' that government done "everything - everything" in its power to free the hostage, adding that the killing was "terrible". Also Mali and Niger - together with Algeria most affected by the terrorist cell - have called on more international assistance to fight terrorism in the Sahara desert region.
In another incidence, the "Al Qaeda" cell killed eight people near the Algerian capital, posing a growing threat of Al Qaeda militancy in the North and West Africa. Algerian militants are a leftover from a near civil war between the government and Islamists that killed up to an estimated 200,000 people during the 1990s.
Most of the violence has since abated, but hard-liners stepped up suicide bombings and attacks after joining Osama bin Laden's terror network in 2006 under the name al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa.
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