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Kidnapped Swede in Mali shown alive in video

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Kidnapped Swede in Mali shown alive in video
Photo: YouTube
07:35 CEST+02:00
A video appearing to show a Swede and a South African who were kidnapped in Mali in 2011 by Al-Qaeda has emerged.

The video obtained by the Mauritanian news site Sahara Medias appears to show Stephen Malcolm McGown, from South Africa, and Swedish citizen Johan Gustafson in good health, a website employee told new agency AFP.

The two men are bearded and are seen wearing traditional robes, sitting under a tree, the employee said, adding that it was not known when the video was shot.

McGown and Gustafson were abducted in the city of Timbuktu in northern Mali in November 2011 and have since been held by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Sahara Medias, which has aired videos and statements by jihadist organisations in the past, was still unable to upload the video late Monday due to blockages on file-sharing sites, the employee said.

But the website showed a screenshot of the two hostages in which they appeared in good health, saying it was consistent with the other images.

The film is said to show a sequence of shots in the desert with an English voiceover before the hostages are shown in a wood, watched over by three masked men dressed in black.

The two hostages, speaking as their kidnappers look on, call in turn for the governments of South Africa and Sweden to secure their freedom, without mentioning negotiations or demands for a ransom.

McGown and Gustafson were kidnapped along with several other Westerners by a group of armed men on the terrace of their hotel in Timbuktu.

One of the hostages, Dutchman Sjaak Rijke, was freed in April by French special forces during a desert operation near Tessalit, northern Mali.

Rijke's wife had managed to escape from the kidnappers, while a German who tried to resist them was killed.

AQIM, one of the jihadist groups that took control of Mali's vast north in 2012, claimed responsibility for the kidnappings. The militants have been largely driven from the region since January 2013 through an ongoing French military operation.

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