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With Libya being so difficult to visit it was only a matter of time before banditry returned to the south of Alg ... and the trans Sahara Highway on which Arak Gorge is located, has always been risky...
Thanks to Ursula for the link
"Four Swiss kidnapped and expenditure-robs in south Algeria (23,10,02, 21 o'clock) I was just informed from first hand verbally about the following incident. I ask to excuse possible transmission errors. Different Swiss daily papers will report probably the day after tomorrow on the incident. They are informed tomorrow by the concerned. Beginning of the report:
Last Friday mornings vierkoepfige Swiss was forced a travel's group in a jeep (Isuzu Trooper) 40 km north of Arak with force of arms to stopping. Five bandits placed its vehicle (Nissan Pickup with double cab) crosswise on the roadway and aimed with Kalaschnikovs put on. Swiss 150 meters further brought behind a stone hill, where an Algerian truck and a Pickup were - both likewise by Wafffengewalt continue. The bandits spent themselves as fighters Allahs and tried their acts with angetanen injustice to justify. After further 15 kilometers they achieved the actual base in a Oued. There in groups by altogether 12 bandits 17 kidnapping (together with four mentioned Swiss of everything probably Algerians) were held in each case. The Isuzu was in-lubricated with fat to obviously camouflage in order it later with a layer sand for search actions. Fear for hours of hoping and doubting followed. After a bottle Whisky was found (it zerschmettert) had Swiss breaking water to drink (if to drink know your alcohol, then can its also that drink). Everything was removed from the victims except the carried dresses and smaller effects. The passports kriegten it after repeated asking back. At 16 the bandits the place left o'clock with the edition that during 2 hours nobody agitates itself, otherwise it were shot. Later the victims with the left truck reached Arak, where were made for the authorities report. A search action was introduced immediately. Swiss are now again in their homeland.
Appendix of Juerg being:
The Arak ravine applied in former times under Saharareisenden as risk area, lost this fright lately however appreciably. Long time applied also a convoy obligation (drive in the escort from the military). Whether this convoy obligation at the time of the over case actually any longer did not exist or whether the travelers for other reasons unaccompanied it drove extracts itself to my knowledge.
A report from 1992 (source: http://www.amr-outdoorwelt.de/Servic...egypten92.htm) in addition: ... the two described Algeria as rather dangerous. A Volkswagen bus should have been attacked in the Arak ravine and the drivers was killed. Thus the two already turned with the fright messages in in Salah again and have done without the route to the Hoggar mountains...
Here's another machine translation. Put the two together and you may get the hang of it, I hope:
"Last Friday morning a four-member Swiss tourist party was forced in a cross-country vehicle (Isuzu Trooper) 40 kms to the north of Arak with force of arms to the clue. Five bandits put their vehicle (Nissan Pickup with double cabin) crosswise on the highway and aimed with Kalaschnikovs. The Swiss were taken 150 meters behind a stone hill where an Algerian TRUCK and a Pickup was - both also stopped by force of arms. The bandits called themselves as fighters of Allah and tried to explain their acts with the injustice done. After anther 15 kilometers they reached an Oued with the real base. There 17 kidnapped (in addition to the four mentioned Swiss, all probably Algerian) were held in each case in groups by 12 bandits. The Isuzu became smeared with fat, evidently to camouflage it with a layer of sand. It followed anxious hours of the hoping and Zweifelns. After a bottle of whiskey was found it was shattered and the Swiss had to drink fallow water (if your alcohol can be drunk, so can this). Everything was taken from the victims out of the carried dresses and smaller stocks. The passes got them(her,it) by repeated request back. At 16 o'clock the bandits left the place with the edition that itself during 2 hours nobody stirs, apart from that they would be shot. Later the victims with the left behind TRUCK Arak reached where announcement were done to the authorities. A search was introduced immediately. Now the Swiss are again in their(her) homeland
.-------------------------------- Appendix of Jürg Sollberger:
the Arak ravine was considered(applied) earlier among Sahara travellers than risk area, lost this fright recently, however, visibly. Long time a convoy obligation was then also considered(applied) (Go in the escort of the armed forces). Whether this convoy obligation did not exist(consist) at the time of the attack actually any more or whether the travellers for other reasons went unaccompanied avoids my knowledge. A report of 1992 (source: http: // www.amr-outdoorwelt.de / Service/Reise-Erlebnisse/Afrika/Aegypten/aegypten92.htm ) in addition:... The both described Algeria as quite dangerous. A VW bus should have been attacked in the Arak ravine and the driver was killed. So the both are turned then with the terrible news already in in Salah again and have renounced the trip to the Hoggar mountains... "
this Arak thing is very anoying for me. OK, it seems like (almost) normal
banditry, they did not looked especially for tourists (which rarely use the
But if they stroke there, they might also stroke on the Amguid piste, that
is what worries me, not so much for myself but for my customers
A guide like my Mohammed who knows lots of the sumgglers (and now bandits)
from his contrebande years in Mali etc, might help, but in no garantee to
After this incident I am not sure any more if the Amguid pist could be
considered as safe. I will have te reinvestigate my route for the February
Tassili du Hoggar trip. It is necessary to avoid all places which make
banditry easy (frequent passage of potential victims).
I wonder about the reaction of the DZ autorities. Incidents like this are no
good for the organized tourisma (by plane) and the Tour operators could ask
to block the south to individual tourists.
I think these "Fighters of Allah" are a new kind of bandits.
Smashing instead of drinking a bottle of Whisky and punishing the tourists because they have alcohol and
not keeping their passports is the proof to me that they do not belong to the ordinary mobile bandits between the Tibesti and Mauritania. They might be just in Algeria and that bothers me. The Fighters of Allah were not interested in tourist in the past
During the last years algerian lorries have been robbed several times between In Salah and Tam, especially in this canons near Arak. Thats why the convois started. Maybe they attacked the tourists because they were travelling alone (just one car)?
Does this mean - as Yves already mentioned - the south of Algeria is not safe anymore for tourists?
for "fighters for Allah" the bandits were acting quite moderate. But the incident shows that fundamentalist tendencies exist among the bandits.
To look back: the Malborogh connection had very strong links to the GIA, their commander Belaouer (sais to be eliminated in spring 02) was also a GIA emir.
>Does this mean - as Yves already mentioned - the south of Algeria is not safe anymore for tourists?
The event shows at least that the region is not 100% under control of the autorities.
And that (some) bandits do not limit their activities to government transports etc. any more.
To travel safe we couldn't do much: avoid potentialy risky regions, travel low profile, if possible with a guide (no garantee) and hope that the authorities keep us away from risky areas and fight banditry successfull.
Travelling alone or in group, which one is safer? I think there is no rule of thumb.
But if you travel in a group: keep a large distance between the vehicles and don't join them on suspiccious situations: together you are weaker because only 1 gun is needed to keep you under control.
If these folks really are the "fighters of Allah" they proclaim to be, I would hope they'll take it easy next month as it'll be Ramadan starting early November. If they do actually fast than at least they won't be as energetic as they normally are.
Have to admit that I've come up with this argument to give myself some peace of mind while travelling there rather than anything else...
Hate to pee on your campfire, but having seen how hordes of Morrocans come alive and live it up after nightfall during ramadan it's worth making special efforts to ensure nobody has seen you set up camp.
Four Bernese in Algeria kidnaps and expenditure-robs
BERNE - with Kalaschnikows threatens and expenditure-robs: That passed Bernese travel's group to one last Friday in south Algeria.
In Algeria one kidnapped: the 69-year-old Godi Zurbuchen.
"sudden blocked us a Pickup the way", tells supervisor Godi Zurbuchen. Then five men from the car rose and them with Kalaschnikows threatened. The vierkoepfige travel's group was kidnapped and expenditure-robbed. Together with 13 Algerians them were seven hours in the hand of Islamic freedom fighters. "I thought, now must we die", remember Zurbuchen.
The 69-Jaehrige, which operates justice lane a photo drawing up service at that Bernese, organizes since 1985 journeys to Algeria. So far without problems. "if the money hands, I also next year will go", cannot to Zurbuchen not be discouraged.
Only however the insurance must pay, which could become difficult. With the assault car, photo equipment and further material in the value from 30,000 Franconias were decreased to the Algeria Freak. After the group was released, meet for a long time verhoere followed at the Algerian police. "that was nearly as bad as so with the bandits", Zurbuchen. Until today is missing a rapport, which would facilitate the negotiations with the insurance.
EDA: Algeria is dangerous
BERNE - "in the area, in which Mr. Zurbuchen was attacked, rebels are active", confirm Daniela Stoffel, press spokeswoman of the Swiss federal section for foreign affairs (EDA), the incident. From tourist journeys to Algeria the EDA advises against. If someone goes nevertheless, then it should avoid at least journeys in the interior, because a increased accident and assault danger exists there.
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