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Agreed with Chris, kidnapping the director of a tunnel company to use his expertise to build tunnels in the Sahara doesn't make sense to me. More likely they'll ask for a hefty ransom. Just like mlock, I plan to travel this road myself in the near future and this has me concerned! From the photo of the vehicle, it looks like the attack was on the asphalted main road (and that would make sense too, why would they convoy off-road down to Dakar?). Hopefully, it was a targeted attack and us "normal" tourists are still safe...
Maybe this was a false flag operation that logically would be blamed on others who operate locally. Something bothers me about the reported precision of the operation and selection of high value hostages, who are now being reported as "volunteer workers."???
If it was false flag, and knowing that the search would probably be mostly land oriented, the hostages might have been or might eventually be taken toward the sea, and put aboard a boat, by those perhaps not familiar with the desert. Just an idea.
As laughable as it might seem, and hopefully we will eventually know the facts, I still hold with the idea of some underground structure having played a role in this operation. At this point there is nothing more I can offer except my desire for the survival of the hostages.
If we are to speculate I will simply suggest that the hostages are already in Mali and that it will be a week or two before we hear more from them. Let's hope for the best.
Have the bearded dudes filled their quota yet? Perhaps not. There may be a few more attempts before the season's over.
But the main road through Mauritania should be even safer to travel now than it was before the incident.
""It is true that the desert area is difficult to control," Moratinos has said, "but we are working for the hostages not to travel to another country," referring to neighboring Mali.
Precisely, Moratinos has assured that he had already spoken with the president of Mali, who has initiated the cooperation with us. " As reported by the Spanish minister, the African country has given permission to the Mauritanian authorities "to come into Malian territory under the right of pursuit""
I would not assume it was targeted at an NGO (unless it's a very wealthy NGO) as much as Spanish nationals.
I was waiting for the boat idea to crop up but I read that (6?) EU (or EU-funded) patrol boats run up and down that coast suppressing traffickers heading for the Canaries.
I'll stick my neck out and agree they're in north Mali now or soon. If the '170km-north of NKT' fact is correct, on GE it's right on a wide, fast inter-dune corridor which runs all the way NE over the rails and past Ben Amara. Cut a corner of the PFZ, back into Mori, past Tourine (which they know well...) and so into far north Mali.
Only 1100km and a lot nearer/less risky than doing the same from Tunisia.
Mmmmm...... Just pulled into Northern Mali myself last night from Mori on the asphalt. I came down the NDB/NCT road a few days earlier. Phew.
As it was a 3 day holiday in Mori/Maroc/Mali for Eade there was no internet open before I left, but I guess it explains why there were no tourists arriving from the north for my last day at Auberge Menata.
They can checkpoint the road all they like (with quite a few arse holes demanding almost by force a 'present' as was my experience) but there is a whole lot of nothing out there....
But an interesting tidbit though.
On my last trip when I was heading north from 'chott to 'bou, we (two people, one car) decided to pull off and sleep for the night in the national park. I only had the gps for one of the villages by the ocean (starts with a N?) and after seemingly passing it on the asphalt road, we decided to cut across country towards it.
Within 10 minutes we had military/police Toyotas either side of us who were quite mad. They explained they have radar/microwave or something like that over the whole area and our movements had been radioed in to them from 'bou. We were escorted another 20km or so to the park entrance and made to pay (wasn't trying to avoid it, it was getting dark etc)
So some parts of the big nothing clearly have a method of tracking vehicles etc. How close to the park was the kidnapping?
The village you're thinking of is Nouamghar where the beach piste used to start. '170km north of NKT' (as reported) is about 40km NE of Nouamghar at a point - coincidentally - is where the tarmac ends on the current Google sat image.
That is in the park according to one map I have - or possibly this former piste/current highway is the inland limit of the park.
I know Banc d'Arguin is Unesco and all, but would they really use radar/microwave whatever to protect a few bat-eared skinks? Maybe that's where the money goes.
I was with a French woman and the Mori's explained and showed us how the system worked. Or at least they did to her (my French is only good for eating and avoiding giving presents). All I saw was a radio system, but they clearly radioed in that they had 'caught' us as they put it ;-)
Maybe they were bluffing, spreading the word amongst tourists, but they came from different directions and made a bee line for us. Thougt we were being kidnapped at the time......
Lets hope the Spanish get out very soon and smiling as much as possible....
I believe there is surveillance conducted by the Spaniards over the Mauritanian coast centered in Noadhibou to prevent people trafficking.
If traffic is that tightly monitored, all the more peculiar that three Spanioli were targeted for kidnapping?
The three cooperating NGO Catalans Barcelona-Acciò Solidarity, kidnapped on Sunday, have been found alive at 100 kilometers northeast of Akjout in the desert of scissors, as reported by local sources. The three Spanish would be in an area of dunes between Azzeffaz chains and Acchar. The NGO's spokesman, Josep Ramon Jimenez, confirmed the information and communicated it throughout the afternoon will meet with the Spanish ambassador, he has called "good news" but could not say whether the three volunteers were or were not released.
The aid workers were 'well' while their abductors were negotiating a ransom with the Mauritanian army and with the Polisario Front, the independence movement of neighbouring Western Sahara, which Morocco regards as a part of its territory, El Mundo quoted Moroccan officials as saying.
Spanish diplomats and secret service were mobilized in a search for the aid workers while Mauritania deployed five police patrols, two air force planes and ground troops, according to Spanish government sources.
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