U.S. tourists seized in Egypt's Sinai released

CAIRO Fri Feb 3, 2012 5:17pm EST

One of the two American tourists who were kidnapped is seen with Egyptian officials after her release in a hotel in Saint Catherine, south of Sinai February 3, 2012. Gunmen in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula kidnapped two American women on Friday in an apparent attempt to hold them for ransom, security sources said. Security in the isolated desert region has deteriorated since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising last February. REUTERS/Stringer

One of the two American tourists who were kidnapped is seen with Egyptian officials after her release in a hotel in Saint Catherine, south of Sinai February 3, 2012. Gunmen in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula kidnapped two American women on Friday in an apparent attempt to hold them for ransom, security sources said. Security in the isolated desert region has deteriorated since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising last February.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

Related Topics

CAIRO (Reuters) - Two American women kidnapped by gunmen in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Friday were released into army custody a few hours later, security sources said.

The gunmen in the isolated desert region had apparently been seeking a ransom, but the security sources declined to discuss the terms of the release.

However, a Bedouin source said the authorities had agreed to a demand to free four fellow tribesmen from police custody in exchange for the two tourists.

Security in Sinai has deteriorated in the year since President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in a popular uprising. South Sinai's Red Sea coast is a major Egyptian tourism hub, and the kidnapping is yet another blow to an industry that has been devastated by Egypt's political turmoil.

The two tourists had been among a party of five travelling from Saint Catherine's monastery in central Sinai to the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh when a vehicle carrying men armed with machineguns stopped their small bus, the security sources said.

The gunmen first took the tourists' money and valuables and then, as an apparent afterthought, grabbed the two women, forced them into their vehicle and fled into the mountains, the security officials said.

Two army and police search parties had gone into the area to try to track them down, the officials said.

Bedouin in the Sinai, who complain of neglect and discrimination by the authorities in Cairo, have attacked police stations and blocked access to towns to show their discontent and press for the release of fellow tribesmen from prison.

Last month, Bedouin seized 50 German and British tourists whose coach accidentally crossed a roadblock they had set up as a protest against the governor of South Sinai.

Those tourists, who were also on a trip to the monastery, were released a few hours later.

Four armed men also attacked a hotel in an Egyptian Red Sea resort popular with Israeli holidaymakers last month before fleeing when police returned fire.

(Reporting by Patrick Werr and Yusri Mohamed)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (5)
Intriped wrote:
This is not good for the already hurting tourism industry in whole of Egypt.

Feb 03, 2012 8:16am EST  --  Report as abuse
GoToAftrbrnrs wrote:
Intreped…Already hurting tourism industry in Egypt? Seriously? Who in their right mind would even think about going to North Africa or the Middle East in this day and age? Oh yeah, two moronic Americans thinking that nothing can happen to them!!

Tourism in the Middle East and North Africa should be dead to Americans…While we’re at it, throw Mexico in there too!! Our government should be doing a better job of not just letting Americans know that it’s dangerous, but TELLING them NOT to go abroad to these places.

Feb 03, 2012 9:03am EST  --  Report as abuse
911014ever wrote:
Those women are lucky to have made it out of there!! This is your new birthday, enjoy it and don’t put yourself in harms way again!

Feb 03, 2012 12:32pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus