CAIRO, Egypt – Two British tourists in southern Sinai have been freed just hours after their kidnapping, an Egyptian military intelligence official has said.
The two were kidnapped while traveling in a private car from Cairo to Sharm el-Sheikh, a popular beach resort, and had stopped to change money in Ras Sidr when they were kidnapped by the tribesmen.
The Egyptian military intelligence official said the couple were freed after police promised the Bedouin they would release a detained relative who had been arrested and accused of smuggling weapons from Libya to Egypt. He said the two were safe and in a security building in Ras Sidr.
Security in the isolated desert region has deteriorated since the overthrow of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, in a popular uprising two years ago.
Several other tourists have been held briefly by tribesmen in recent months and 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 last year but Egyptian authorities negotiated their release a few hours later.
Two other US tourists were kidnapped in late May that year, and then two more US tourists in July. The captives were released within days in both incidents.