Algeria has said that Paris paid a ransom to release a French hostage who was kidnapped by a terrorist group in northern Mali, amid France's denial of the allegations.
On Sunday, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad expressed his country's great concern over the continued transfer of large sums of money to terrorist groups in exchange for the release of hostages.
This came in a speech delivered during the African Union's 14th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government on Silencing the Guns Initiative, days after the French President Emmanuel Macron claimed that Paris had not paid money to free the hostage.
In early October, the presidency in Mali, Algeria's neighbour, announced the liberation of four hostages, including activist Sophie Petronin, the last French hostage worldwide, and prominent Malian politician, Soumaila Cisse, along with two Italian hostages, one of whom is a priest who was kidnapped in Niger. No further details were provided.
According to media reports, a deal was carried out between the leader of the Jama'at Nasr Al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), Iyad Ag Ghali, and the French authorities, after which 207 terrorists were released, in addition to paying the terrorist organisation a sum of money ranging between €6-€30 million ($7.3-$36.3 million).
The swap angered Algeria, especially since the released terrorists – some of whom hold Algerian nationality – have resumed their activities in the areas adjacent to the country's southern borders.
The National Building Movement (MEN or El Binaa), led by former presidential candidate Abdelkader Bengrina, warned of the dangerous repercussions of this operation on Algeria's national security.
In its official response to France's move, the Algerian Ministry of Defence said: "These unacceptable actions that contradict UN resolutions, criminalizing the payment of ransoms to terrorist groups, will impede efforts to combat terrorism and dry up its sources of financing."