Two U.S. tourists held in Sinai by Bedouin tribesmen

CAIRO Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:27am EDT

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Two U.S. tourists were held hostage in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday by Bedouin tribesmen seeking the release of an imprisoned kinsman, security sources said.

The Americans, one man and one woman, were stopped by the Bedouins in an armed ambush in central Sinai and taken along with their Egyptian tour guide to a remote mountainous location, the sources said.

Several other tourists have been held briefly by tribesmen in recent months and have been released unharmed, often after less than a few hours of negotiations with authorities.

Bedouin have attacked police stations, blocked access to towns and taken hostages to show their discontent with what they see as their poor treatment by Cairo and to press for the release of jailed kinsmen.

Two American women were kidnapped in Sinai in February but Egyptian authorities negotiated their release a few hours later. The incident was repeated in late May with two other U.S. tourists, who were also released a day later.

Security in the isolated desert region has deteriorated since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising in February 2011. South Sinai's Red Sea coast is a major tourism hub for Egypt.

(Reporting by Yusri Mohamed in Ismailia; Writing by Dina Zayed; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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