“Qaeda group demands prisoner swap for Austrians: report,” from Agence France-Presse:
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Al-Qaeda’s North Africa branch Thursday called for the release of prisoners in Tunisia and Algeria in exchange for freeing two Austrian tourists it claims to have kidnapped, a US monitoring group said.
The group gave Austrian authorities three days to comply starting at midnight Thursday, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors Islamist websites.
The Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) — an Algerian-based off-shoot of Al-Qaeda — said it had abducted the pair in Tunisia on February 22 and warned Western tourists to stay away from northern Africa.
“Consequently, the state of Austria is responsible for the lives of the two hostages in the event of the expiration of the time period and not responding to our demands,” the organization said in communique issued to jihadist forums, according to SITE.
“We call on Western tourists to avoid visiting the lands of the Islamic Maghreb, and he who was warned will not be excused,” it said.