Egyptian tourists, tourists in Egypt, tourists taken hostage
Saedi Press/AP
Egypt's southwestern desert, where a group of European tourists and Egyptian tour guides
were kidnapped during an adventure safari in the Sahara desert and were taken across the
border into neighboring Sudan, Monday, Sept. 22, 2008.

Kidnappers in Southern Egypt Take 19 Hostages Toward Sudan

September 22, 2008 12:16 PM
by Anne Szustek
A group of “masked men” believed to be Sudanese nationals have allegedly taken a group of European tourists and Egyptian tour guides hostage, demanding $8.8 million in ransom.
The apparent abduction took place on Monday near the Gilf al-Kebir plateau, located near the borders of Egypt, Sudan and Libya. The plateau is famous for its cave drawings. According to reports, the hostages include five Italians, one Romanian and five Germans on a packaged tour, and eight Egyptians who were on the tour group staff.

The group was last seen near Aswan, Egypt, popular among tourists for its ruins dating from the pharaonic period. Sources from within the tourist industry in southern Egypt report that the group was traveling in three or four all-terrain vehicles; Dubai-based paper Gulf News reported that the entourage was scheduled to participate in a motor rally in the desert.

Egypt’s state news agency MENA told the BBC that the owner of the company leading the tour called his wife via satellite phone to tell her that the group had been abducted by five masked men who spoke English “with an African accent.”

Egyptian Minister of Tourism Zoheir Garrana was quoted by Reuters as saying, “This is a gang act [by] masked men.” Garrana said that the kidnappers were “most likely” Sudanese nationals; however Egyptian security sources have noted that they could be Egyptian or Chadian citizens. Security sources also confirmed that the rebels were asking for 6 million euros, roughly $8.8 million in ransom.

Initial reports said that the Egyptian government was negotiating with the rebels. However, Garrana disputed those claims in the Reuters story: “There are no negotiations with the kidnappers because there has been no official contact made by them asking the Egyptian government to intervene,” he said.

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