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Hostages Asked To Pay Up

The fourteen freed European hostages, including nine Germans, held in the Sahara desert for over five months by Islamic extremists have been asked by Germany's Foreign Office to contribute some €2,300 ($2,680) each to the cost of their rescue—an operation believed to have cost around €20 million ($23 million). The first group of travelers freed will allegedly be billed €1,000 each. The tourists had been driving in vehicles and motorbikes without guides through an area which the German Foreign Ministry had warned against visiting, and a number of German politicians as well as Algerian authorities were quick to accuse the tourists of acting recklessly. One of them, Rainer Bracht, maintains the government is failing to treat foreign and domestic kidnappings equally and has described the decision as "totally populist." He says he will request a deferment of payment.