Nouakchott, Jun 24: Al-Qaeda's north African branch has released footage of a jihadist with an English accent parading two Western hostages he says are being held in "new territory" under its control.
South African Stephen Malcolm McGowan and Swede Johan Gustafson were abducted in Timbuktu, northern Mali, in November 2011 and have been held since by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
The film appears to have been shot in early April, according to McGowan's family, around the time that a Dutch hostage kidnapped with the pair was rescued in a raid by French special forces.
The 19-minute clip, uploaded to YouTube, shows McGowan and Gustafson sitting by the roadside in a forested glade with their wrists bound.
They are led into the shade to discuss their situation by a dark-skinned, balaclava-clad militant, who gives the impression of being a native English-speaker.
McGowan and Gustafson, heavily-bearded and dressed in tunics, appear in good health in the video, entitled "A Trip to Interview Two Prisoners".
Its release was announced by Mauritania's Sahara Medias yesterday but the news agency said it was unable to show the footage on its website because of technical difficulties.
The video is not dated, but McGowan is shown wishing his mother a happy birthday "for two weeks ago" and his wife a happy wedding anniversary "for last week".
"His mother's birthday is on March 20 and his wedding anniversary is on March 31. This would put the video around April 6," the hostage's father, Malcolm McGowan, told AFP in Johannesburg.
AQIM was among several jihadist groups that took control of Mali's north in 2012 before being ousted by a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.