Spanish and Italian aid workers appear in video

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 12, 2011 4:44 PM

By Teresa Larraz Mora

MADRID (Reuters) - Two Spanish aid workers and an Italian kidnapped from a Sahrawi refugee camp in western Algeria have been shown on a video recording, the first time pictures of the three have been since they were captured in October, Spain's Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

The government said it had informed the families of Ainhoa Fernandez de Rincon, who was working for a group supporting refugees from the disputed territory of Western Sahara, and Enric Gonyalons, who was working with the Basque non-profit group Mundubat.

The Italian Rossella Urru, from the Rome-based Comitato Italiano Sviluppo dei Popoli (Italian Committee for the Development of Peoples) also appears in the video.

"The government continues carrying out all possible efforts, with maximum discretion and the cooperation of all governments in the region, to obtain their release as soon as possible," the Spanish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The aid workers were abducted on October 23 from a refugee camp near Tindouf by kidnappers suspected to have crossed from Mali.

Tindouf is the main base of the Polisario Front, which seeks independence for Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony annexed by Morocco in 1975. The Polisario Front is backed by Algeria, where many Sahrawis live in refugee camps.

In the video, Gonyalons appears with a bandaged foot and the two women are wearing headscarves, Spanish media said, citing a journalist from Agence France-Presse who had been shown the video.

The hostages were seen surrounded by armed men, the reports said.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the kidnapping but authorities say they suspect an offshoot of the Islamic militants of al Qaeda.

(Reporting By Sarah Morris; Editing by Kevin Liffey)