Seventeen Europeans who had been held hostage since March by a militant Islamic group were released last week. The 10 Austrians, six Germans, and one Swede were captured after setting out to explore the Sahara desert. Their captors are still holding 15 tourists. “They said that Osama bin Laden was an idol for them, but that theirs was a separate group,” said hostage Andreas Bleckmann. The hostages said they were treated well by their captors, who wanted to call attention to Algeria’s 1992 elections. The kidnappers say that vote was legitimately won by Islamic fundamentalists who were prevented from taking power by the military.
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