[QODLink]
Middle East
Confusion over hostages in Egypt
Contradictory reports emerge about whether abducted tourists have been freed or not.
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2008 10:55 GMT

Those snatched in southern Egypt included
five Italians [AFP]

 

 

Confusion surrounds the fate of 19 hostages, including 11 foreign tourists, abducted in Egypt while on a safari in a remote desert border area.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Egyptian foreign minister, said late on Monday that the hostages, abducted earlier in the day, had been released and were safe, but officials on the ground refused to confirm the news of the release.

"They have been released, all of them, safe and sound," Gheit told reporters.

He made the announcement in New York ahead of his scheduled meeting with Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state.

Mena, Egypt's official news agency, however, stated that negotiations were still under way to secure the release of the hostages.

Al Jazeera's Amr el-Kahky, reporting from Cairo, also said his contacts on the ground had failed to confirm the release.

There was more confusion as Zoheir Garrana, the Egyptian tourism minister, said only the Egyptians among the hostages were freed.

Timeline


Tourist attacks in Egypt

The Italian foreign ministry and Egyptian security sources earlier confirmed the abduction of the group, which included at least five Italian nationals.

"Foreign minister Franco Frattini... is following the matter of the kidnapping in Egypt of a group of foreigners including five Italians," the ministry said in a statement.

The other people seized were eight Egyptians, five Germans and one Romanian.

Ransom demand

Garrana described the abductions as "a gang act [by] masked men".

Mustapha Tawfiq, chief of police in the southern city of Aswan, told state television that four men abducted the group near Gilf el-Kabir, an uninhabited region near the borders with Libya and Sudan.

Egyptian sources said the kidnappers had asked for between four and six million dollars in ransom, although it was not possible to confirm the sum.

Garrana later said the hostages "had been moved outside the Egyptian borders".

Al Jazeera's el-Kahky said that it was believed the victims were taken to northern Sudan across Egypt's border.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
An estimated 36 people die each day in embattled town where pro-Russia rebel separatists fight Ukrainian soldiers.
People are starving in southern Somalia while relief efforts are blocked by government and rebel fighting.
join our mailing list