Italian tourist abducted in desert

2011-02-04 19:03
Algiers - The Algerian APS news agency said on Friday that an Italian tourist had been abducted by suspected Islamic militants in the North African country's remote southern desert.

The woman had been heading towards the southern town of Alidena when militants armed with automatic weapons began following her in all-terrain vehicles.

The group captured the tourist but released her guide and cook.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, is active in the area and has often abducted foreign tourists.

The Italian Foreign Ministry said it could not immediately confirm the report, which did not identify the woman.

The APS report said the captors allowed her to call the agency that had organised her trip to tell them she had been abducted.

Al-Qaeda's North African branch operates throughout the vast arid region, from Mauritania to Chad.

It has its roots in an extremist Islamic group in Algeria that brokered an alliance with the terror network in 2006. Since then, AQIM has kidnapped more than a dozen Europeans including tourists and aid workers.

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