Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 01 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Coverage of Gaza in the Israeli media

Read more

REPORTERS

1914-1918: The Depths of Hell

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 01 August 2014

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Exclusive: Israel's US ambassador speaks to FRANCE 24

Read more

#THE 51%

World War One: The war that changed women’s lives

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Ségolène Royal goes for green

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

A look back at some of the Observers' best stories

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults: Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

  • Hamas denies capturing Israeli soldier as Gaza truce lies in tatters

    Read more

  • Scores killed in China factory explosion

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Israel's US ambassador speaks to FRANCE 24

    Read more

  • Police chokehold caused NYC death, coroner rules

    Read more

  • France tops requests to erase online footprint, says Google

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Rogue general denies Islamist seizure of Benghazi

    Read more

  • Ugandan court strikes down anti-gay legislation

    Read more

  • 1914-1918: The Depths of Hell

    Read more

  • Regional summit to tackle deadly Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • French hospital to open wine bar for terminally ill patients

    Read more

  • Video: Tipping is dying out in French café culture

    Read more

  • €2.5 million in cocaine ‘disappears’ from Paris police HQ

    Read more

  • Appeal court keeps French rogue trader Kerviel in jail

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • Ukrainian army suffers losses in separatist attack

    Read more

Austrian hostages freed by Qaeda group

Video by Philip CROWTHER

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-02

Two Austrians kidnapped by al Qaeda's North African wing and held for 8 months in the Sahara Desert have been freed and are now in the hands of Malian authorities, the Austrian and Malian governments said Friday.

Two Austrian hostages snatched by Al-Qaeda's north African offshoot in the Tunisian desert in February have been freed, the foreign ministry said Friday.
  
Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik "informed the public today that Wolfgang Ebner and Andrea Kloiber, who were kidnapped on February 22, are free," the ministry said in a statement.
  
Confirmation of the releases came shortly after a source in the Malian presidency said the pair had been freed and were in the hands of Mali's army.
  
"Special envoy Anton Prohaska informed me today that Wolfgang Ebner and Andrea Kloiber were freed last night by their kidnappers after 252 days (in captivity)," Plassnik said.
  
"The two are currently under the protection of the Malian army and are en route to Bamako, where they'll be transferred to the care of the Austrian team."
  
According to the Mali said, the two were "in good health" considering they had been held for eight months, the statement continued.
  
"I've alread spoken personally to their families in Salzburg and informed them of this happy turn of events. Along with the families, I'm happy these long weeks of worry and uncertainty are now at an end."
  
Ebner, 51, and his companion Kloiber, 44, went missing in Tunisia on February 22, with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb claiming responsibility for their abduction on March 10.
  
The kidnappers initially demanded the release of a number of Islamic extremists imprisoned in Algeria and Tunisia. They subsequently demanded a five million euro ransom (6.4 million dollars) according to unconfirmed press reports.
  
Vienna, which was being helped by Bamako in its negotiations with intermediaries to obtain their release, has consistently refused to comment on the kidnappers' demands or ultimatums.
  
"It's now a matter of organising their rapid and safe return to Austria," Plassnik nsaid.
  
An Austrian plane would be sent to Bamako in the next few hours to bring the two home.

Date created : 2008-10-31

COMMENT(S)