Egypt Independent

Gunmen abduct American tourists demanding release of relative

Bedouin gunmen kidnapped two American tourists while traveling by bus from Dahab to Nuweiba in South Sinai on Thursday after security forces arrested one of the gunmen’s relatives who is accused in a criminal case.

A security source said the kidnappers were Bedouins and that the kidnapped are being kept in a mountain area near Ras al-Shaytan.

AP quoted security officials as saying the two Americans are men in their early 30s.

The kidnapping of foreigners by Bedouins in Sinai has become more common since the beginning of the year, as Bedouins aim to pressure the government to release their imprisoned relatives.

In February, two American women were released by gunmen after authorities agreed to free four of their fellow tribesmen from police custody.

Then in March, Bedouins released two Brazilian tourists after Egypt’s military authorities agreed to discuss the case of one of their tribesmen who was being held in jail on drug-related charges.

Security in Sinai has deteriorated since President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in a popular uprising early last year. South Sinai's Red Sea coast is a major Egyptian tourism hub, and the kidnapping is yet another blow to an industry that has been devastated by Egypt's political turmoil.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm