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Anouk Zijlma

Tourists Kidnapped in Egypt

By September 22, 2008

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Eleven tourists were seized on Monday, September 22, in the remote, desert area of Southern Egypt. A ransom of USD 8 million has been demanded. According to a BBC report, the Egyptian Government is blaming bandits, rather than terrorists. The group kidnapped consists of 5 Italians, 5 Germans, a Romanian and 8 Egyptians. On Tuesday, 23 September, German authorities were leading negotiations with the kidnappers. By Friday, 26 September, the hostages were apparently moved to just inside the Libyan border. Negotiations for their release are still taking place. On Sunday, September 28, the BBC reported that some of the kidnappers had been killed, but the tourists remained captive and are reported to be in Chad.

Finally, a week after their capture, the 11 tourists and their guides were freed unharmed on Monday, September 29, and according to a BBC report, no ransom was paid.

The tourists were on an adventure tour, traveling in a remote part of Egypt and off-roading in a private group in the Sahara desert, close to the Sudanese/Libyan border. The concern for other visitors to Egypt is that some reports are saying the kidnapping took place near Aswan, which is the destination for any tourist starting a cruise down the Nile to Luxor, or as a setting off point to visit the ruins of Abu Simbel. However, these tourists were actually quite deep in the Western Desert by the time they were kidnapped, although they did set off from Aswan initially.

Most tourists only travel in convoys around Egypt, a rule set in place for security reasons. And even small private groups doing desert treks have to bring security with them. It's been years since Egypt has seen this kind of action against tourists. The last incident in July 2005, was a set of bombs in the popular Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. In April 2005, Cairo was rocked by 2 different bombing incidents both of which targeted tourists.

Sources and for more on this story:
Associated Press Report
BBC News

September 23, 2008 at 3:25 pm
(1) Trish says:

I fully plan on visiting Egypt, but even before today’s news, I wasn’t thinking about anything too adventurous. I feel so sorry for those travelers! I hope negotiations yield results soon.

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