A veteran of southern Algeria, an Italian 56 years, Maria Mariani Sandra, a native of Florence and the mother of a child, was kidnapped last Wednesday in the late afternoon, when she had just joined a former baseball life, used as an inn, located Alidena, 250 km south of Djanet (wilaya Illizi), and less than a hundred kilometers from the border with Niger.
According to local sources, was held hostage with her driver's guide Ténéré tourism agency based in Djanet, keeper of the site and a shepherd in the region, when two vehicles, 4X4 Standard Station , broke. "It was about 18:30 or so. Turbaned men, heavily armed, numbering 13 or 14, an Arabic speaking Mauritanian got
out and after checking his identity, they took her to an unknown destination, "say our sources, noting that before leaving, the attackers ransacked the lights of the vehicle (a 4x4) driver's guide. Panicked, he returned to town and alerted the gendarmerie brigade of Djanet, which was the first to be informed, before the tourism agency. Immediately after, a search was initiated. According to reports from some guides in the region, kidnapping is a real surprise. "First, because the area is very secure, given the number of barracks that exist around even if the distance between them is somewhat very important. Then by the fact that many tourists are currently on the scene and have never been worried with regard to security arrangements in place in the area ... "they tell us.
However, they do not rule out the thesis of "complicity" somewhere that could give "directions or instructions" on the bivouac places for terrorists. The Italian is no stranger to the region. "For over 5 years, she spent periods of three weeks, a month and up to two months in this area quite well and she knows she loves. She arrived in Djanet January 20 last. She spent a week in Tadrart then she returned to Djanet, to refuel before heading back to the desert. Maybe she could have been followed, but why her? There are many tourists in that area? "Says Kherrani, director of the agency Tenere, which has lavished praise on his guide, saying:" It's one of my best guides. He worked for 16 years at the agency level and knows the region inside out. This man is a mine of information. He can not venture into a place without making sure it is secure. Are the terrorists have not followed him to realize? We do not know. What is certain is that those who kidnapped the tourists and not speak Mauritania Algeria or Touareg, "says Kherrani, which states that he was in Ouargla when the kidnapping took place, and that Djanet is reached yesterday. For him, "everything is still confused.
Operations Research by the security services supported by the guides of the region continues. Resources have been deployed for this operation and we expect results. " Kherrani feared that the tourism sector Sahara, "already very affected by what happens in Mali and Niger," suffer "like a knockout," the dramatic consequences of such an act. "The few tourists who still come will be scared and abandon Algeria final destination," he says. This feeling is shared by other agencies responsible for tourism of Tamanrasset. Everyone is convinced that the hostage has already crossed the border between Algeria and Niger, very near the scene of the abduction. What security sources did not rule out. It does not hesitate to recall: "As long as countries continue to agree to pay ransom to terrorists and bandits of all kinds, there will always be taken hostage. It is so successful that it became the most popular trade in the region of northern Mali, Niger, whose population, do not forget, living between the northern part of Algeria and of the south, where governments can not afford to (or unwilling) to tackle the scourge of insecurity. "