Cairo, March 23 (IANS/EFE) Two foreign tourists were kidnapped Friday while travelling in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, a source in the Egyptian security services told EFE.
The victims, identified as an Israeli man and a Norwegian woman, were on their way by car from the resort of Taba, near the border with Israel, to Dahab when they were intercepted by masked Bedouin gunmen in a pickup truck, the source said, citing witness accounts.
Police found the car with its windshield smashed.
The kidnappers are seeking the release of a Sinai man who was recently arrested north of Cairo in possession of large quantities of illegal drugs, the source said.
Authorities started talks with Sinai tribal leaders to secure the release of the tourists and confirmed that the captives are safe and unharmed.
The last two years have seen a spate of abductions of foreigners by Bedouins seeking to win the freedom of jailed compatriots.
Two weeks ago, Exxon Mobil’s top executive in Egypt, Andrew David Wells, and his wife were grabbed during an excursion in the Sinai and held for several hours.
Sinai is home to an estimated 300,000 Bedouins, divided among more than a dozen tribes.
Tribal leaders have complained repeatedly that Egypt’s government neglects the needs of the Bedouin communities in the Sinai, essentially forcing them to resort to smuggling and other criminal activity.