MADRID – The leader of the Polisario government of Western Sahara said on Thursday that the group is ready “to sacrifice the lives of its combatants” to liberate three European aid workers kidnapped seven months ago from a refugee camp in Algeria.
The Polisario’s intelligence indicates that Spaniards Ainhoa Fernandez de Rincon and Enric Gonyalons and Italian Rosella Urru “are alive,” Prime Minister Abdelkader Taleb Omar said at a seminar in Madrid.
He also said he was confident that negotiations to secure the captives’ release would soon bear fruit.
If not, however, the Polisario has “the determination and the will to use all efforts to liberate them safe and sound,” he said.
Taleb Omar said the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic – the Polisario’s name for the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara – is working actively with the governments of neighboring countries to resolve the situation.
Fernandez de Rincon, Gonyalons and Urru were kidnapped Oct. 23 from a facility near the Algerian town of Tindouf where foreign aid workers are lodged.
A branch of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the abductions.
Efforts to free the aid workers have been complicated by the Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali, where the captives are believed to be held, Taleb Omar said.
Despite the kidnapping, aid groups continue to operate in the Saharawi refugee camps, he said.
The Algerian-backed Polisario Front launched a war for independence against Morocco in 1975 after the North African kingdom annexed Western Sahara on the withdrawal of Spanish forces. EFE