Europeans Abducted In Egypt Taken To Libya

Tourists attend a Sound and Light show at the temple of Ramesses II, also known as The Great Temple at the temple complex of Abu Simbel, southwest of Aswan, Egypt Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008. German officials established direct contact with kidnappers of a 19-member tour group in Egypt after days of trying to negotiate through mobile phone calls between one of the captives and his wife, Egyptian and Sudanese officials said.
AP Photo/Nasser Nasser
The kidnappers of 11 European tourists and eight Egyptians snatched while on a Sahara desert trip in Egypt and moved to Sudan were taken to neighboring Libya Thursday, according to the Sudanese government.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali Youssef told The Associated Press that the group was moved to Libya and was now some 10 miles inside Libyan territory.

Ali, speaking by telephone from the Sudanese capital Khartoum, did not know why the kidnappers, who are suspected to be desert tribesmen, decided to move their captives to Libya.

Egyptian government spokesman Magdy Rady and Tourism Ministry officials said they had no information on the move to Libya.

The tourists and the Egyptians were snatched Friday in a remote desert corner of southwestern Egypt. They are five Germans, five Italians and one Romanian. The Egyptians are drivers, guides and the owner of the tour company that organized the trip.

The kidnappers are demanding a ransom, reportedly of up to $15 million, and Germany has been negotiating with them, but there has been no word on the progress of these contacts.

Until now, the negotiations were taking place through two phone calls a day between the tour company's owner and his German wife, who lives in Egypt, according to an Egyptian security official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the talks.

The wife has been staying at the German Embassy in Cairo, according to Italian press reports.

The Egyptian security official said Wednesday that German authorities had established direct contact with the kidnappers. The contacts were also reported by the Sudan Media Center, a news agency close to the Khartoum government.

Neither gave details on how the communications were taking place.