ALGIERS - Algeria said on Monday it could not confirm a report that seven of its diplomats abducted in rebel-held northern Mali had been freed, and threatened to shut its border crossings to stop the chaos there spilling over.
Algeria's El Watan newspaper reported on Sunday that the seven were freed, but Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci was quoted by the official APS news agency as saying: "There is no information regarding the release."
The diplomats were abducted last week from the town of Gao, part of a swathe of territory in northern Mali now under the control of Tuareg-led separatists.
A spokesman for the separatists said an Islamist group with ties to the separatists was behind the abduction. The hostages are Algeria's consul in Gao and six consular staff, according to the Algerian foreign ministry.