Vienna - The family of an Austrian man abducted in Yemen appealed in a YouTube video on Wednesday for his release as his hostage takers' deadline for a ransom payment neared.

Pictured with what appeared to be an AK-47 assault rifle pointed at his head, Dominik Neubauer had said in a video posted on Feb. 21 he would be killed if a Yemeni tribe did not get ransom money within a week.

Looking drawn and their voices at times breaking, his parents responded in their own video.

“As his mother I beg you to help bring my beloved son Dominik back home safely,” a woman wearing a headscarf and sitting alongside Neubauer's father and brother says.

“Dear Dominik, if you see this video be assured that we are thinking of you constantly, we love you and want to do our utmost to help you,” the father says.

Neubauer, a 26-year-old Arabic studies student, was snatched along with a Finnish couple by tribesmen in the centre of the capital Sanaa on December 21, according to the Yemeni government.

Yemen has said the three were later sold to members of al Qaeda and transferred to the small town of al-Manaseh south of the capital.

A foreign ministry spokesman in Vienna said Austrian and European authorities were in constant contact with authorities in Yemen but declined to give specific details.

He warned against taking too strict a reading of the demands for a ransom payment. “We know from past experience in similar situations there are often different ultimatums and repeated ultimatums,” he said.

Finland has several officials in Yemen working on the case.

Yemen last month suspended a military operation against al Qaeda-linked militants in al-Manaseh while tribal leaders tried to secure the release of the three hostages.

The army had begun an offensive involving 8 000 soldiers after the militants rejected demands to release them. - Reuters