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Al-Qaida-linked militants say holding 7 Americans

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 16, 2013 at 11:23 a.m.

— An Al-Qaida-linked militant group claims it is holding seven Americans among 41 foreign hostages it has taken after occupying a natural gas complex deep in Algeria’s southern desert near the Libyan border.

The spokesperson for the “Masked Brigade,” founded by a leading member of al-Qaida in North Africa, told a Mauritanian news outlet that the group was holding hostages from nine to 10 different nationalities, including the Americans.

He said the operation was to punish Algeria for allowing French jets to use its airspace in attacking al-Qaida linked rebel groups in northern Mali.

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