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Cape Town - Al-Qaeda's north African branch AQIM has reportedly released a video purporting to show seven people it had abducted, one of them South African Stephen Malcolm.
The video released to the Mauritanian news agency ANI includes statements from Frenchmen Daniel Larribe, Pierre Legrand, Thierry Dol and Marc Feret, as well as Malcolm, Dutchman Sjaak Rijke and Swede Johan Gustafsson.
There was nothing to show whether the seven hostages were filmed at the same location.
“Based on an initial analysis, the video seems credible to us and provides new proof of life of the four French hostages kidnapped in Arlit (northern Niger) on September 16, 2010,” French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said on Monday, adding that the eight minutes and 42 seconds of footage were being authenticated.
In the video, the French hostages reportedly urge French President Francois Hollande's administration as well as family members to work for their release.
“I am in good health,” Larribe was quoted as saying by ANI in a brief statement that also referenced France's intervention in Mali earlier this year.
South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation said it would not respond every time there is a report about Malcolm.
“The case of Stephen Malcolm is something we are working on with the relevant authorities in Mali and we keep updating his family. We’ve tried many channels to secure his release and are hopeful that by peaceful means we’ll get him back. We will not respond to every incident coming from Mali,” department spokesman Nelson Kgwete said on Monday night.
Asked where in South Africa Malcolm was from, he said he could not divulge this. “That permission has not been given to us by the family.”
Asked about the progress made in efforts to free Malcolm, Ngwete said: “It is difficult for us. All we can say is that the matter is a priority for us and is receiving attention. We’ll do everything in our power to get him back.”
Cape Times and AFP