An Austrian man kidnapped in Yemen late last year with a Finnish couple said in a video posted on the Internet that his captors would kill him in a week if their demands were not met, Austrian media said Saturday.
The video, which was posted on Youtube on February 21, was confirmed as authentic by the authorities of Finland and Austria, the Austrian APA agency said.
“My name is Dominik Neubauer. I’m an Austrian citizen. I’ve been taken hostage on the 21st of December 2012 by a Yemeni tribe,” the hostage says in the video, a gun held to his head.
“I appeal to the Yemeni government, to the Austrian government and to all the governments concerned and to the European Union to give them what they want. Otherwise, they will kill me seven days after this video is published,” he says.
Austrian foreign ministry spokesman Martin Weiss told APA that the video was the first proof of life but refused to further elaborate on the captors’ demands or the existence of any negotiation.
Yemeni forces late last month suspended an offensive aimed at freeing the three Western hostages that cost more than 65 lives. Tribal mediators were allowed to attempt a negotiation with the kidnappers.
The Austrian man and Finnish man and woman were abducted in the capital Sanaa as they prepared to travel to the southern port of Aden via Yemen’s second city Taez.
In early January, Yemeni security officials had said the Europeans were being held by Al-Qaeda-linked tribesmen in the eastern Marib province.
Most kidnappings of foreigners are carried out by members of the country’s powerful tribes who use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government.
Hundreds of people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years. Almost all have been freed unharmed.
Al-Qaeda militants, active in the south and east of Yemen, rarely carry out kidnappings. But a Saudi diplomat, Abdullah al-Khalidi, has remained in the hands of the jihadist network since his abduction in Aden on March 28.