Kidnapped tourists located in northern Sudan

24th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

The German government is negotiating for the 11, among them Germans and Italians.

Cairo -- Sudanese authorities have located 11 tourists and eight Egyptians who went missing on Friday in Egypt's Western Desert during a safari trip, the Sudanese foreign ministry said Tuesday.

The tourists and their tour guides were located in Jebel al-Uwainat region, 25 kilometers from the Egyptian border, Sudanese Foreign Ministry official Ali Youssef told the Egyptian state news agency MENA.

Youssef said Sudan would not launch any operation, which could harm the hostages and was coordinating with Egyptian authorities.

Germany was negotiating the release of the 11 Europeans -- five Germans, five Italians and a Romanian -- and eight Egyptian guides, Egyptian state-owned daily al-Ahram reported.

Sources at the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism told DPA that Egypt was "monitoring the negotiations," without giving further details.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, declined to say whether the German government was involved in release negotiations.

A spokesman for the Italian embassy in Cairo also declined to confirm the existence of negotiations.

The German Foreign Ministry had set up a crisis team immediately after reports of abduction surfaced on Monday afternoon, German officials confirmed.

The 19 were kidnapped Friday while they were taking part in a visit to the Gilf Kebir, a remote scenic area in the Egyptian Western Desert close to the borders with Libya, Chad and Sudan.

News of the abduction emerged only on Monday, when one of the Egyptian tour guides telephoned his German wife.

The identity of the kidnappers has not yet been ascertained, although the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has said that bandits, not terrorists, are behind the grab.

Al-Jazeera news channel, quoting unnamed Egyptian officials, said on Tuesday that the hijackers were a gang from Chad.

Reports have said that a ransom between $6 million and $15 million had been demanded for their release.


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