Armed Bedouin tribesmen have released two US tourists in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula after police gave up a relative who had been arrested in a drugs case, Egyptian police said on Thursday. 

The men, both 31, were seized while driving near the resort of Dahab on Friday. Bedouin who blocked the road released their Egyptian driver.

"There are negotiations now between the security forces and the armed gunmen to release the tourists," a police source said, adding the Bedouin were seeking the release of one of their tribe who had been jailed.

"We can confirm that there were two US citizens kidnapped May 30 on the Sinai Peninsula and we are working closely with the Egyptian authorities to resolve the situation," a US embassy official said, without giving further details.

Several other tourists have been held briefly by tribesmen in recent months, but were released unharmed.

Bedouin tribesmen in the Sinai have attacked police stations, blocked access to towns and taken hostages to show their discontent with what they see as poor treatment from Cairo, and to press for the release of jailed kinsmen.

Two US women were held in a short-lived kidnapping in February until Egyptian authorities negotiated their release a few hours later.

Source: Agencies