Missing Austrians reportedly in Algeria

Missing Austrians reportedly in Algeria

ALGIERS, March 11, 2008 (AFP) — Two Austrian tourists abducted by Al-Qaeda’s North Africa branch are in Algeria, close to the border with Tunisia, where they went missing last month, the Arabic daily Annahar reported Tuesday.

« According to Algerian sources, the group of kidnappers crossed the Algerian border between Tebessa and Oued Souf. A search is going on to locate and surround them so as to be able to open dialogue and negotiations, » the paper said.

The report could not be officially confirmed.

On Monday, a spokesman for the « Al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb » — the local franchise of the global jihadi front — said it had abducted the pair on February 22 and warned western tourists to stay away from Tunisia.

Austrian press reports have named the missing pair as Wolfgang Ebner and Andrea Kloiber.

According to the Austrian foreign ministry 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.