Egypt: Bedouins free kidnapped American tourists

A Bedouin rides a camel during the 10th Arabic Camel racing festival in al-Arish, Egypt, Aug. 29, 2006. AFP/Getty Images

(AP) EL-ARISH, Egypt - Two American tourists abducted by Bedouins in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula were released unharmed Thursday following negotiations between local tribesmen and the kidnappers, a security official said.

Security officials said the Bedouins snatched the two men early Thursday as they were traveling by car from Dahab to Nuweiba, resort towns on the Red Sea's Gulf of Aqaba.

The two men, in their 30s, were riding in a rented car when they were stopped at a roadblock by protesting Bedouins, who were demanding release of one of their tribesmen held by security over a drug trafficking charge, the officials said.

Their local driver was released. He informed authorities of the kidnapping.

The head of South Sinai security, Maj. Gen. Mahmoud el-Hifnawi, told The Associated Press that the two men, were at the local police station after hours of negotiations between tribesmen and the kidnappers. He said they were in good health.

Another security official said the authorities later released the tribesman accused of drug trafficking.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

This was a rare instance of authorities accepting the demands of kidnappers.

Sinai has seen a series of kidnappings as Bedouins try to pressure authorities to release detained relatives or improve basic services. The kidnap victims have usually been released unharmed.

Relations between the Bedouins and police have been strained for years following arrest raids on their community after terrorist attacks in Sinai in the past decade.

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