Israeli, Norwegian tourists kidnapped in Egypt


Sinai Bedouin routinely complain of neglect and unfair treatment by the government, and sometimes kidnap tourists to press their demands, usually releasing them soon afterwards following negotiations with the authorities.


Dan Kitwood

Masked gunmen in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula kidnapped an Israeli man and a Norwegian woman, both tourists traveling between two coastal resorts.

Six Bedouin gunmen stopped the tourists' car and forced them into their pickup truck. The pair had been traveling the southern resort of Taba, on the Israeli border, and Dahab, a sea resort further south.

Egyptian security agencies were trying to contact the kidnappers to secure the tourists' release. Israeli officials in Jerusalem said it did not appear the man was targeted because of his nationality.

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"Our initial assessment is that this was criminally motivated," one said.

Security in the Sinai desert has deteriorated since President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown two years ago. Other tourists have been kidnapped by Bedouins in the past in an attempt to push for the release of other tribesmen from jail.

Egypt's boss of ExxonMobil and his wife were also briefly kidnapped earlier this month.

When Bedouins kidnapped two Britons on March 7, they were released within hours after negotiations with security officials. The husband and wife had been taken from a bank as they were heading to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.