British hostage thought killed by al-Qaida

Al-Qaida terrorists have killed a Briton taken hostage in Mali, the British prime minister said Wednesday. The fate of a Swiss hostage taken at the same time was unknown. A statement issued in the name of al-Qaida on an Internet site frequently used for extremist messages said the captive, Edwin Dyer, was killed on Sunday. Dyer was abducted in January and his captors in Mali had threatened to kill him by the end of May if Britain refused to release extremist preacher Abu Qatada from prison. Qatada, who remains in jail, has been described in Spanish and British courts as a leading al-Qaida figure in Europe. "We have strong reason to believe that a British citizen, Edwin Dyer, has been murdered by an al-Qaida cell in Mali," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a statement issued by his office. "I utterly condemn this appalling and barbaric act of terrorism."