The family of an Algerian diplomat kidnapped in Mali called on his abductors to release him out of mercy due to his illness.
Taher Tawati was among seven diplomats abducted in April after the Algerian consulate in Gao, northern Mali, was attacked by militant groups, some of which are accused of having links to al-Qaeda.
“The family is living in sadness and despair since he was detained last April, and our sadness was deepened after we watched him on the television,” Abdullah Tawati, the diplomat’s uncle, told Al Arabiya Tuesday.
The abductors who call themselves the “Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa” (MOJWA) released a video Sunday showing Tawati pleading to the Algerian government to save his life.
“I’m calling on the Algerian people to stand by my side in this hardship to release me,” Tawati said in the video, sitting in front of a black backdrop carrying the name of the militant group in Arabic.
The uncle said his nephew Taher has anemia and his health has deteriorated due to his disease. The uncle described him as a polite man who is not an ideologue. “Taher comes from a poor family,” the uncle told Al Arabiya, “and most of his siblings are unemployed.”
The group released three of the seven diplomats in July and said the Algerian government knows the conditions to free the remaining diplomats. In May, the group demanded the release of three of its members that the Algerian government has detained, in addition to 15 million euros ransom.
A spokesman for MOJWA said Friday that they have made an offer to the Algerian government to exchange the group members detained by the government for the consul general who remains in their custody with two other diplomats, one of them is Tawati.
“The Algerian government rejected the offer, and therefore they bear responsibility for the consequences of this rejection,” the spokesman said.