[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Great Lakes
Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 June, 2003, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Missing Sahara tourists 'alive'
Rescued hostages wave as they leave plane in Cologne, Germany
The first group of hostages arrived home in May
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has said he is sure that 15 Europeans taken hostage in the Sahara desert are alive.

Speaking to reporters in Austria, Mr Bouteflika said he would do everything possible to secure their peaceful liberation.

There had been no word about the fate of the 10 Germans, four Dutch and one Swiss since another group of 17 adventure tourists from Europe was freed on 13 May when Algerian troops stormed an Islamic extremist hideout.

The tourists were seized while travelling without guides in the scenic south of the country between February and March and are thought to be held near the Tuareg city of Illizi, 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) south of Algiers.

I would stop at nothing in order to save their lives
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algerian President
"We're working with the Germans to find a peaceful way to solve this problem... at a political, security and military level," said the Algerian leader in Vienna.

"We would even go so far as giving the terrorists safe conduct if, in return, the hostages were set free. I would stop at nothing in order to save their lives."

The Algerian president also expressed concern that the missing tourists had not taken proper precautions when coming to his country.

"I regret that the people concerned came to Algeria in ways that are not totally orthodox and normally one should go to these places with specialised people," he said.

Since the tourists' disappearance, four motorcycles and a jeep thought to belong to the group have been found in southern Algeria, the country's El Watan newspaper reports.

Saharan hostage 'rescue planned'
20 May 03  |  Africa
Sahara hostage tells of ordeal
15 May 03  |  Africa
Sahara hostages fly home
14 May 03  |  Africa
German plea over Sahara tourists
12 May 03  |  Africa
Tourists vanish in Sahara
30 Mar 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Algeria
06 May 03  |  Country profiles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific