• Hostage seeks help to secure his release

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    WASHINGTON: A Romanian mineworker kidnapped by an Al-Qaeda affiliate last year appeared in a video released Monday urging his government to secure his release as soon as possible.

    Iulian Ghergut, then a security officer, was taken on April 4, 2015, when five armed men attacked a manganese mine in Tambao, 350 kilometers northeast of Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, officials said at the time.

    Ghergut, heavily bearded and squinting slightly, says he is in good health in the video he dated September 21 of this year.

    Speaking in a thick accent in French, he says he thinks of his family, while pressing his family and the Romanian government itself to do everything possible to secure his release.

    The clip was distributed by SITE, a group based just outside Washington that monitors extremist groups.

    Ghergut was taken by Al-Murabitoun, led by one-eyed Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar. The group, which has since affiliated itself with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, has claimed responsibility for several spectacular and bloody attacks in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Kidnappings of foreigners, often for ransom, occasionally occur in Mali and Niger but not usually in Burkina Faso, a landlocked Sahel country.

    AFP

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