UPDATE: Two elderly American women kidnapped in Egypt were released Friday, hours after they were seized by Bedouin gunmen, Egyptian government TV reported.
(CAIRO) — Two American tourists were kidnapped by gunmen Friday in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, according to the BBC. The pair has yet to be identified, but the BBC reports they are women.
The two were reportedly traveling in a small bus near St. Catherine’s Monastery when the vehicle was stopped by armed assailants.
The Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Alyoum reported three other tourists were left behind. Their nationalities were not immediately known.
The U.S. Embassy has not yet released a statement.
Earlier this week, Bedouins kidnapped 25 Chinese workers in Sinai. They were released unharmed the following day.
In recent months, Egypt has seen an uptick of violence as the security situation deteriorates. This comes as thousands of protesters in Cairo begin to march on the Ministry of Interior building to protest this week’s violent soccer stadium riots that left at least 74 people dead. Soccer fans blame the violence on the lack of security at the game. Four people have died so far Friday in clashes.
Since the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the country’s tourism industry has taken a hit, with revenues plunging nearly 30 percent in the last year. Tourism Minister Mounir Abdel-Nour said last month that the number of tourists who came to Egypt in 2011 dropped to 9.8 million from 14.7 million the previous year. Revenues for the year clocked in at $8.8 billion compared to $12.5 billion in 2010.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Angela Dewan and Donie O'Sullivan, CNN
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN