Egyptian kidnappers release Norwegian, Israeli tourists

CAIRO Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:29am EDT

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Kidnappers released a Norwegian woman and an Israeli man held in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula following negotiations mediated by Bedouin leaders between authorities and the group that seized the tourists four days ago, security sources said on Tuesday.

The tourists had been kidnapped on Friday while driving between the resort towns of Dahab and Taba on the Red Sea coast.

The sources said the kidnappers' aim was to put pressure on Egyptian authorities to release two of their relatives held for alleged drug dealing. The police had agreed to review the case.

Security in the Sinai desert region has deteriorated since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak two years ago.

Bedouin kidnappers have captured tourists in the past to push for the release of fellow tribesmen from jail. Earlier this month kidnappers briefly seized the country manager of U.S. oil major ExxonMobil and his wife.

Two American female tourists were kidnapped in Sinai in February last year but Egyptian authorities negotiated their release a few hours later. Two other U.S. tourists were seized in late May that year, and two more U.S. tourists in July. The captives were released within days in both cases.

(Writing by Tom Perry; editing by Xavier Briand)

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