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Deadline for Austrain hostages extended
A deadline set for Sunday midnight by al-Quaeda militants who abducted two Austrian tourists has been extended, to give more time for their demands to be met.
In a meeting with reporters in Vienna, Austrian foreign ministry spokesman Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal said "More time for the efforts to free Andrea Kloiber and Wolfgang Ebner has been made available,"
Al Qaeda had earlier on demanded the release of its members from Algerian and Tunesian prisons. Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, last Thursday, reiterated Austria’s inability to comply with the demands made by the hostage-takers as their demands were out of Vienna’s jurisdiction, although efforts were being made to secure the release of the hostages.
"The extension of the ultimatum is an enormous relief for us," Mr Ebner’s son, Bernhard, told ORF.
ORF, Austrian public broadcaster, also said the aim of the Austrian authorities is to get the hostage-takers to drop their demands for the prisoners’ release and instead concentrate on a ransom.
The hostages are said to being held in Mali where a senior Austrian diplomat is seeking their freedom.
The islamist group warned tourists to stay away from Tunesia, algeria, Morocco and Mauritania in an audio message. The Maghreb Al Quaïda spokesperson also called Tunesia an “apostate” state while warning foreign tourists to stay away in a video recording.