Austria sends security investigators to Algeria

Austria sends security investigators to Algeria, says spokesman

By Abdenour Boukhemkhem and Halima Nine, Ech-Chorouk, 12 March, 2008

Vienna has sent security investigators to Algeria to coordinate with security forces in the abduction of two Austrian tourists next to Algerian Tunisian borders, according to diplomatic officials at Austrian foreign affairs ministry.

Austrian affairs ministry spokesman, Martin Gaertner told Echorouk that two security experts sent by Vienna are on their way to Algeria to coordinate with the Algerian authorities in investigation on Wolfgang Ebner and Andrea Kloiber.

The envoys would arrive on Thursday morning at Algiers International Airport Houari Boumediene coming from Tunis, according to diplomatic sources.

“The two officials who are members of the Federal Bureau for Constitution Maintenance and Counterterrorism will be followed by a third officer from the Austrian premier Counter-Terrorism unit (Cobra),” said the same sources.

The group considers moving to the area where the Austrian tourists are believed to be kidnapped on February 22nd next Algerian Tunisian borders.

Officials at the crisis cell which was set up in Vienna in this regard is in contacts with the Algerian and Tunisian authorities on the event, Gaertner told Echorouk.

The crisis cell at the ministry actually received a non original copy of the tape which was broadcast by Al Jazeera TV channel, said the same source.

“Specialists checked the tape and will give their opinion if the tape is real or not.”

The Austrian government called its ambassador to Senegal to move to Bamako to deal with the matter with Mali, said Gaertner.

Wolfgang Ebner, 51, went to the Sahara in 2000. He knows the region well as he has been every year there since then.

“Hope that they are alive and in good conditions”

Wolfgang Ebner’s son said his family are spending a hard time and hope that his father and his companion Andrea Kloiber are alive and in good conditions.

The GPS system of the tourists’ car did not send any information up to the satellite, according to Mike, Wolfgang Ebner’s son.

“My father went to the Sahara in 2002. Since then, he has been every year there. He went to Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, South Africa, Mauritania and Morocco,” he told Echorouk.

“He loves the African culture, people and landscapes,” he added.

In the last phone call with the Austrian tourist, Mike said his father told him he would take the same route.

Asked whether the tourists’ families consider coming to Algeria, Mike said they want but it is not possible for them.

The only wish of Mike is to have them back in good conditions as soon as possible.