Bedouin men kidnapped two US tourists and their guide in Egypt’s lawless Sinai on Friday, police said, adding that they were demanding the release of a jailed tribesman in exchange for the hostages.
The Bedouin captured the American man and woman in the middle of the peninsula, where they were in a car with their Egyptian guide, almost a month after tribesmen briefly kidnapped a tourist from Singapore.
The Bedouin were demanding the release of a jailed tribesman, the officials said, as Bedouin have done in increasingly frequent tourist kidnappings over the past year.
Two American tourists kidnapped near the Red Sea resort of Dahab in May were released after less than 24 hours in captivity.
All of the previous hostages have been released unhurt.
Bedouins living in the Sinai, where most of Egypt’s luxury resorts are concentrated, had long been marginalised under the regime of Hosni Mubarak, and the security situation there has been tense since his ouster in February last year.
Several Bedouins were severely punished between 2004 and 2008 for attacks against resorts on the Red Sea.
The situation in Sinai has been made more difficult by the limited presence of the army as a result of the demilitarisation of the area under the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
A pipeline running through northern Sinai which supplies gas to Israel and Jordan has also been the target of repeated sabotage attacks over the past year.