Bamako: The Islamist rebel group that freed three European hostages in north Mali this week claimed that they received a ransom of $18.4 million and the liberation of two imprisoned group members in exchange, media reported on Friday.
Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, known as MUJAO, leader Adnan Abu Elwalid Sahraoui said that the group had no more Western hostages, but threatened to stage more kidnappings in the Sahel region.
“We will take them as soon as they enter the territories of Mauritania, Mali, Algeria or Niger,” he said.
The mediators and European governments did not comment on whether a ransom was paid for Wednesday’s release of the two Spaniards and one Italian.
However, Gen. Gilbert Diendere, one of the mediators and a close security aid to Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, confirmed that two members from MUJAO had been freed in exchange for the hostages
The three aid workers — Italian Rossella Urru and Spaniards Enric Gonyalons and Ainhoa Fernandez del Rincon — were kidnapped from a refugee camp in southern Algeria last October and held in north Mali. They reunited with their families in Europe late Thursday.