Two Americans Kidnapped in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula

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iStockPhoto/ThinkstockUPDATE: The two American tourists who were kidnapped in Egypt this week were released on Thursday, ABC News has confirmed.

(CAIRO) — Two Americans tourists been kidnapped in Egypt.

The American embassy in Cairo tell ABC News the two men were kidnapped Wednesday evening in the lawless Sinai peninsula.  They were reportedly driving north from the Red Sea resort town of Dahab when they were taken by armed Bedouin tribesmen, who are now demanding the release of another tribesman arrested earlier this week with a large quantity of drugs.

The embassy said they were working closely with the Egyptian authorities to secure the men’s release, but declined to give further details because of privacy concerns.

Col. Majdi Musa, the head of police intelligence in the Sinai, told the semi-official Al Ahram newspaper that the two men were born in 1981 and confirmed their names and passport numbers, which had been reported earlier.

The father of one of the men, who asked ABC News not to disclose their names, said, “We’re hoping and praying for their safe return and it’s just too early to know any further details.”

Egyptian reports said the men are being held in a mountainous area called Ras al-Shaytan, translated as “head of the devil.”  They were driving from Dahab to Nuweiba when their minibus was stopped.  They were reportedly then transferred to two cars, according to the driver, who said the tribesmen told them not to worry, that they had demands of the Egyptian government.

The kidnappers are demanding the release of a man named Eid Suleiman Atiwai, who was arrested with a large quantity of drugs on Tuesday.

Lawlessness has risen dramatically in the Sinai, particularly since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.  Kidnappings by Bedouins have become more frequent, and they are also known to traffic in guns and drugs.  Al Qaeda is known to operate in the remote region, though they are not believed to have been involved with this kidnapping.

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