Missing Austrian tourists in Mali ?

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Despite the close follow up of the missing Austrian story by the Algerian arabophone daily, Annahar and its ensuing announcement that the “kidnappers of the two Austrian tourists might have succeeded in crossing into the Sahara through Algeria and Libya to get to their base in Mali”, while citing other Algerian sources, the fate of the missing tourists is still shrouded in mystery.

From Racelma Kaci our correspondent in Algiers

The kidnappers and their hostages were spotted earlier on in the border towns of Tebessa and Oued Souf, in the south eastern part of Algeria, where the army had been deployed to search, according to the daily, adding that the crossing could have lasted at least four days.

Andrea Kloiber, 44 years, and Wolfgang Ebner, a 51 year old consultant, abducted from Tunesia February 22, were driven through a part of Algeria considered as a “hot” zone, a heavily armed islamist area .

The “hot” zone has been thoroughly combed through for four weeks now, by the Algerian military and heavy tracking is still being carried on in the mountaineous region of Oum Kmakem, according to sources.

The kidnappers whose numbers are not yet known are said to belong to the southern part of the Al Quïda controlled region under the leadership of emir Yahyia Abou Ammar.

According to a video recording broadcast Monday, the Maghreb (North African) Al Quaïda spokesperson called Tunesia an “apostate” state while warning foreign tourists to stay away.

These tourist abductions come five years after 35 German tourists were kidnapped from the Algerian Sahara by the ex emir, Abderazak El para, of the Amari Saifi GSPC (groupes salafistes pour la prédication et le combat – Salafi groups for preaching and combat).

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