HOSTAGE CRISIS

Aid worker kidnap was imminent, says minister

Spanish government orders repatriation of 13 in Algeria

The government was privy to "certain indications of an imminent kidnap" of Spanish aid workers at the Tinduf Sahrawi refugee camp in Algeria, which led to the decision to repatriate 13 people at the weekend.

Although Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo termed the evacuation "voluntary," many aid workers felt that the ministry's decision amounted to an order. However, investigations after the release of Enric Gonyalons and Ainhoa Fernández on July 18 after nine months in the hands of Al Qaeda-linked militants revealed that the camp had been infiltrated and a new plan was afoot to snatch foreign nationals, especially Spaniards.

"What if aid workers were kidnapped and it transpired the government knew about it and did nothing?" Foreign Ministry sources said on Monday.

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