An Algerian diplomat was executed by Islamists in northern Mali early on Saturday.
The diplomat, Taher Touati, was taken when the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) attacked an Algerian consulate in the northern Malian town of Gao. MUJAO had held Touati for month, demanding that Algeria release prisoners affiliated with the Islamists.
The deadline was initially extended by the extremist group, but when this passed Touati was executed, according to the Agence Nouakchott d’Information (ANI). The news agency was told that the group blamed the Algerian government, who could not reach an agreement. MUJAO also used the message to call for an armed uprising in Algeria.
The Algerian Ministries of Defense and Communication refused to give a statement about the killing.
Calls have been made for increased regional involvement in Mali to stymie the spread of Islamists, who this week took the town of Douentza, less than 800 kilometers outside of the Malian capital.
A mix of Islamist groups now controls at least two-thirds of Mali. West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS has called for intervention, but other regional powers, such as Algeria, have been reluctant to intervene.
The Justice Minister of Nigeria has declared that Algerian involvement is “absolutely necessary” at an Open Society Initiative for West Africa seminar, according to Magrebia.