Tourists Kidnapped in Egypt

Fifteen tourists were forcibly taken by kidnappers Monday in Upper Egypt. The 15 was made up of five Germans, five Italians, four Egyptians and one Romanian.

The kidnapping took place near Gilf el-Kabir near the Libyan borders. According to Mustapha Tawfiq, chief of police of Aswan, the abductors were four Egyptians wearing masks.

The Egyptian Tourism Minister condemned the abduction of the 15 as an act of banditry, not of terrorism.

The 15 were spread in three of four vehicles. A ransom demand has been made, although the amount asked was not revealed. Egyptian Tourism Minister Ahmed al-Maghrabi said negotiations with the kidnappers are underway.

There were speculations that Israelis were included in the group and that the victims were taken to Sudan. Local Israel radio clarified there was no Israeli among the 15, but there was no confirmation where the kidnap victims were brought.

The four Egyptians kidnapped were identified as two safari company employees, the owner of the company and a security officer looking after group.

The Egyptian tourism minister, Zoheir Garana, said his department was negotiating with the kidnappers, who are thought to be desert tribesman demanding up to $6m (£3.25m) in ransom.

An Egyptian government spokesman said it was thought the tourists were taken to Sudan.

Security sources said there was no indication Islamist militants were involved.


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