Austrian tourist siege goes 200 days


Monday was the 200th day the Austrian tourists taken hostage in the Sahara desert had been held in captivity.

Andrea Kloiber, 43, and Wolfgang Ebner, 51, from Salzburg were kidnapped by the terrorist group ‘El Kaida of the Islamic Maghreb’ who still refuse to release the pair.

Peter Launsky of the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs said the two people from Salzburg are “doing well, having in mind the extraordinary circumstances”.

It was announced that negotiations, led by top Austrian diplomat Anton Prohaska, are proceeding slowly because the hostage-takers change their location constantly. The plan is to act cautiously and not to put the Austrians under great risk.

Fresh hopes of the couple’s release were founded when a new appeal was sent to the terrorists at the start of Ramadan – the holy month of abstinence and charity for Muslims.

Kloiber and Ebner were attacked and taken hostage by the terrorist group on 22 February during a tour through the Sahara desert in southern Tunisia.

The hostage-takers initially demanded the release of all El Kaida members currently arrested in Tunisia and Algeria but negotiations did not bring a solution and the couple remain in the group’s custody.