Al-Qaida sets deadline for release of kidnapped Austrians

Al-Qaida's branch for North Africa posted a new Internet statement Thursday, setting conditions and giving a three-day deadline for the release of two Austrian tourists it claimed to have kidnapped in Tunisia last month. In the statement - which included six photographs purportedly showing Austrians Wolfgang Ebner and Andrea Kloiber - al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa said it would set the two free if some of the group's members were released from jails in Tunisia and Algeria. The posting gave Austrian authorities three days, starting midnight Thursday, to comply. "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," is said and urged families of the two Austrians to pressure their government to meet the group's demands and "save the lives of the two tourists."