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Al Qaeda 'abducts' two Austrians in Tunisia

Latest update : 2008-03-11

According to a recording aired by news channel Al-Jazeera, al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for abducting two Austrian tourists who went missing in Tunisia last month. Austria is yet to confirm.

Al-Qaeda's North Africa branch on Monday claimed responsibility for abducting two Austrian tourists missing in Tunisia since last month, according to a recording aired by Qatar-based Al-Jazeera.
   
In the audio recording broadcast by the Arabic news channel, the group's spokesman Salah Abu Mohammad identified the two as a consultant and a nurse.
   
The spokesman for Al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb said the man and woman were abducted on February 22 and were in good health, but he warned other Western tourists to stay away from Tunisia.
   
"A squadron of heroic mujahedeen was able to infiltrate deep into the Tunisian state and succeeded in kidnapping two Austrian tourists," he said.
   
"The two kidnapped are in good health and are being treated well in keeping with the teachings of Islamic sharia (law)," the voice attributed to the Al-Qaeda spokesman said.
   
"We tell Western tourists flocking to Tunisia for leisure at a time when our brethren are being slaughtered in Gaza by the Jews with the complicity of Western states ... the mujahedeen warned (you) in the past," the voice said.
   
"The apostate Tunisian state is not able, and will not be able, to protect you. The mujahedeen's hand can reach you wherever you are on Tunisian soil, so heed (the warning)," he added.
   
The spokesman did not make any specific demands as a condition for freeing the alleged hostages.
   
The Austrian foreign ministry said last week that an Austrian tourist couple, who were not named, had been missing in Tunisia since mid-February.
   
Austrian press reports have named the kidnap victims as Wolfgang Ebner and Andrea Kloiber.
   
The foreign ministry said that the man, aged 51, and the woman, in her forties, were last heard of in mid-February from the village of Matmata in southern Tunisia.

Date created : 2008-03-10

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