Tourist kidnappers extend ultimatum, criticize Austria


Austria said on Tuesday it could not confirm the authenticity of another ultimatum issued by the kidnappers of two Austrian tourists in North Africa.

Austria’s Foreign Ministry said experts were analyzing an internet video were al-Qaeda’s North African wing warned that Austria was responsible for the fate of the two tourists.

Austria was not serious in preserving the lives of its citizens, the group said. But it did not set a new deadline for its demands, which expired at midnight on Sunday.

A ministry spokesman said Austria had received information indicating that there was still time for finding a solution.

The kidnappers demand the release of a Muslim couple currently serving a prison sentence for terrorist activities including producing internet threat videos glorifying al-Qaeda.

Vienna also had to end its participation in the international mission in Afghanistan, the kidnapper’s latest message said. Austria has two officers stationed in the country.

Wolfgang Ebner, 51, and Andrea Kloiber, 43, were kidnapped while on holiday in Tunisia in late February. They are now believed to be held somewhere in the Mali-Algerian border area.