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2 kidnapped Americans released in Egypt, authorities say

From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Ivan Watson, CNN
updated 11:18 AM EST, Fri February 3, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The two hostages have been freed, an official says
  • The Americans had been kidnapped in the Sinai peninsula, authorities said
  • Another group was abducted this week

(CNN) -- Two American tourists who were kidnapped in the southern part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula were freed Friday, a security official said.

They had been abducted by unknown Bedouins, said Gen. Mohamed Naguib, head of security in the region.

The kidnappers had demanded that some detainees be released and retried, but it is unclear if these calls were met.

Earlier Friday, the country's tourism minister said on Al Hayat Egyptian TV that authorities had located the kidnappers and were negotiating with them.

The abductions came several days after kidnappers held a larger group for a day.

Twenty-four Chinese workers and a translator were kidnapped by Bedouins while on their way to a military-owned cement factory on Tuesday, the state-run Xinhua news agency of China reported.

A group of armed Bedouins had blocked the road on which they were traveling. They wanted the Egyptian government to release prisoners. The hostages were released after a day, the news agency said, after Egyptian authorities intervened.

Kidnappings and daylight armed robberies have become increasingly common in the turbulent year since Egypt's long-ruling dictator Hosni Mubarak was overthrown.

In particular, wealthy Egyptians have been targeted by hostage-takers demanding ransom.

"Two of our family members, Ismail, (age) 13 and Sara, 8, were kidnapped yesterday. Right after they got out of their house ... on their way to school," said Mamdouh Eid, an executive in a construction company and the executive director of the Fan's Committee for the popular Egyptian soccer team Al Ahly.

Eid revealed news of the kidnapping of his family, during an interview with CNN about the rampage in a Port Said football stadium that left at least 79 people dead. Hours after he survived the deadly incident, Eid said he learned of the kidnapping of his two child cousins.

"Thankfully, we got them back last night," he said. He declined to explain how the children were returned to their parents.

"Its scary. We don't know what we're heading to and if it will ever be the same again."

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