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Sahel militants collect $220mn in ransoms: Algeria NGO

February 22, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Militant groups active in the African Sahel region have accumulated $220 million in ransoms paid to free westerners they held hostage since 2013, head of an Algerian NGO said on Sunday.

“Terrorist groups use this money to expand their activities by purchasing arms and recruiting new members to create new terrorist spots in the region,” Algeria-Africa Committee for Peace and Reconciliation chairman Ahmad Mizab told Anadolu Agency.

Mizab, a security expert as well, said that the payment of ransoms to militant groups encouraged them to keep kidnapping civilians.

The African Sahel region has been the scene of several kidnapping incidents over the past years.

Some of these incidents targeted Western nationals, most of whom are tourists or workers of multinational companies operating in the region.

Mizab said Algeria would host on Monday a meeting of experts from several countries to discuss means of putting an end to the funding of militant organizations in the region.

Algeria has been spearheading an international campaign to convince the United Nations Security Council to issue a resolution criminalizing the payment of ransoms for the release of hostages.