Two US tourists kidnapped in Sinai released
Security officials secured the release of two female American tourists and their guide, hours after they were kidnapped at gunpoint while vacationing in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula Friday.
Security officials secured the release of two female American tourists and their guide, hours after they were kidnapped at gunpoint while vacationing in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula Friday.
Maj Gen Mohammed Naguib, the head of south Sinai security, said the Bedouin raiders who took the three had agreed to let their hostages go after negotiations with the government.
The women, aged 60 and 65, were being picked up from the Bedouins and returned to the American embassy.
Three other tourists in the convoy were robbed of their cell phones and wallets as the kidnappers took the guns away from their police escort.
The kidnappers demanded the release or retrial of several of their tribesmen being detained by the Egyptian government. The demands are similar to those of the Bedouins who kidnapped 25 Chinese workers earlier this week.
The attack comes as police shot dead three protestors in Cairo after thousands took to the streets across the country, expressing outrage that the military government failed to prevent a soccer riot that killed more than 76 people.
Egypt has faced deteriorating security and a surge in crime since the popular uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak nearly a year ago.
Protesters accuse the military council that has assumed power and the police force of negligence
Elsewhere, four masked gunmen stopped the vehicle of two Italians working for a local food factory in the nearby city of Suez. They took their car, more than $13,000 and their laptops Friday, the director of the company Mohammed Antar said. The attackers let the Italians go.
The tourist group that was attacked was traveling back to the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh after visiting St Catherine’s Monastery in the southern part of the region.
Maj Gen Naguib said the gunmen were driving a sedan and a pickup truck. Naguib said the abductors sped away into the mountains.
The tour van was carrying six people, including the two Americans and an Egyptian guide, Naguib said. The nationalities of the tourists who were left behind were not immediately known.
The unrest in Egypt has led to a sharp drop in the country’s vital tourism sector, with revenues plunging almost 30 percent last year.
Tourism Minister Mounir Abdel-Nour said last month that the number of tourists who came to Egypt in 2011 dropped to 9.8 million from 14.7 million the previous year.
Revenues for the year clocked in at $8.8 billion compared to $12.5 billion in 2010.
A few days before the kidnapping, Bedouins in northern Sinai captured 25 Chinese workers at a cement factory owned by the military.
The kidnappers demanded the release of Islamist relatives who have been held in connections with bombings in Sinai in 2004 and 2006.
The workers were freed hours later.
In 2005, 88 people, including 11 Britons and on American, were killed when three bombs exploded in Sharm el-Sheikh. A splinter cell of al-Qaeda claimed responsibility.
However, during the revolution last year, protestors uncovered documents that indicated the attack could have been planned by the Egyptian secret service.
Bedouins are desert-dwelling Arabs who have traditionally been nomadic herders across the Middle East. About 380,000 live in Sinai.
Bedouins have long complained of discrimination and random arrests by the government, but tensions have intensified in recent months along with a general deterioration of security in the region including attacks on police stations, armed militias roving the streets and attacks on pipelines carrying gas to Jordan and Israel.