Kidnapped Austrian says his captors demand ransom

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Associated Press

Posted on February 24, 2013 at 2:34 PM

CAIRO (AP) — An Austrian man held hostage in Yemen for two months has appealed to his government to save his life, saying his captors would kill him in a week if their ransom demand was not met. The Austrian Foreign Ministry said a government crisis group met Sunday to discuss the case.

Dominik Neubauer, who was kidnapped with a Finnish couple on Dec. 21, said in a video posted on the Internet Saturday and monitored in Cairo, that he was kidnapped by a Yemeni tribe "which is asking for some money." He spoke on the video with a rifle pointed at his head.

He did not say how much his captors were seeking.

Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Weiss said Neubauer had been studying Arabic in Yemen. "We consider it (the video) to be authentic," he said. "This is the first proof of life."

Weiss said Austrian authorities were in contact with their Finnish counterparts.

On the video, Neubauer, seen wearing a black shirt and sporting a thick brown beard and mustache, spoke first in English and then in German. He identified himself, the date of his capture and appealed to the Yemeni and the Austrian governments and the European Union to pay his abductors the ransom.

Tears streamed down his face as he addressed his relatives in German, saying "Mum, dad, Lukas, Angela, I love you more than anything. So far I'm in good health."

Kidnaping foreigners is not uncommon in Yemen, an impoverished Arab nation. Almost all of the kidnappings are carried out by tribesmen who use the captives as bargaining chips to force authorities to provide their areas with services and jobs. They mostly end with the release of the hostages unharmed.

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Associated Press writer Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.

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