- - Monday, May 7, 2012

ISLAMABAD — A 70-year-old American aid worker kidnapped nine months ago in Pakistan said in a video released by al Qaeda that he will be killed unless President Obama agrees to the militant group’s demands.

The White House called for his immediate release.

The video posted on militant websites Sunday followed one issued in December in which al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said Warren Weinstein would be released if the U.S. stopped airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

He also demanded the release of all al Qaeda and Taliban suspects around the world.

“My life is in your hands, Mr. President,” Mr. Weinstein said in the new video. “If you accept the demands, I live; if you don’t accept the demands, then I die.”

It was unclear when the video was recorded.

At the White House, Obama spokesman Jay Carney insisted the U.S. will not negotiate with al Qaeda. “We condemn his kidnapping in the strongest terms and call for [Mr. Weinstein‘s] immediate release,” he said.

ITALY

Anti-austerity candidates lead in municipal votes

ROME — Several candidates opposed to austerity measures were making a strong showing Monday in partial results from Italy’s local elections - the first nationwide test for Prime Minister Mario Monti since he was named to save Italy from its debt crisis.

Analysts were watching for signs of voter anger in two days of balloting over Mr. Monti’s austerity measures and toward mainstream parties that have supported them since Mr. Monti took over from Silvio Berlusconi in November.

AFGHANISTAN

Government slams Taliban spring offensive

KABUL — The Afghan government Monday condemned the recent Taliban announcement of the start of their annual “spring offensive,” calling it cowardly and un-Islamic and pledging the country’s forces would thwart any attacks.

The offensive begins every year as snows melt and the weather warms across Afghanistan, making both travel and fighting easier.

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