Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Kidnapped British tourists 'freed'

The Foreign Office advises against all travel to northern Sinai

Two British tourists kidnapped in Egypt have been freed, according to a local official.

The two had reportedly been driving from Cairo to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh when they were kidnapped in southern Sinai.

An Egyptian military intelligence official said the Britons were safe and in a security building in Ras Sidr in southern Sinai.

The official said the couple, who were believed to have been kidnapped at gunpoint, were freed after police promised Bedouin tribesmen they would release a detained relative who had been arrested and accused of smuggling weapons from Libya to Egypt.

The Britons were almost certainly on an independent holiday trip. The Foreign Office advises against all travel to northern Sinai and advises against all but essential travel in southern Sinai except for the tourist areas around Sharm el Sheikh.

It is thought the two Britons are a middle-aged married couple.

Tourists have been targeted in the past by Bedouin in Sinai wanting to pressure police to free detained relatives. Tourists are typically not held for long before being released unharmed.

A spokeswoman for UK travel organisation Abta said: "The Foreign Office (FO) currently advises against all but essential travel to the South Sinai region of Egypt, which is where the kidnappings of two British nationals occurred. In accordance with Foreign Office advice, our members are not currently operating excursions in the restricted areas of Egypt."

She added: "The incident highlights the risks of making independent arrangements and the importance for British nationals and tourists to follow the FO's advice.

"The Red Sea resorts including those in the entire region of Sharm el Sheikh, Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab and the roads between these resorts and the airports of Taba and Sharm el Sheikh, are not included in the travel restrictions and are all operating as normal."

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