Two American Tourists Kidnapped in Egypt, Officials Say
Bedouin gunmen stormed a minivan in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Friday, kidnapping two American tourists and an Egyptian tour guide for several hours before releasing them to the police, Egyptian security officials said.
Maj. Gen. Gamal el-Ba’ie, the director of investigations for the south Sinai area, said that Bedouin tribesmen took the hostages in the hopes of pressuring the government into releasing two of their relatives who had been arrested on suspicion of dealing drugs. It was not immediately clear whether the Egyptian government responded to that demand or how the freedom of the hostages was secured so quickly.
The Interior Ministry said that officials had been holding discussions with tribal leaders in the area to try to secure the hostages’ release.
The tourists’ minivan was attacked in the town of Saint Catherine, a tourist hub near Mount Sinai, police officials said. Egyptian state media said that an unspecified number of gunmen sped up to the minivan in a small pickup truck and a car. The minivan was carrying three other tourists in addition to the Americans, but their nationalities were not given.
The men robbed the passengers of money, watches and cellphones before abducting the two American women and their guide and driving off into the mountains, according to state media reports. The local governor, security director and police officials traveled where the hostages were being held as part of the rapid negotiations that freed the hostages after roughly six hours of captivity, the reports said.