Citing Egyptian security officials, The Associated Press reported today that two Brazilian women and their tour guide were abducted as they traveled on a bus near Mount Sinai.
Mahmoud Hefnawi, the peninsula’s head of security, said six armed men with their faces hidden removed the three people from the bus but allowed the others to go free, according to the news agency.
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The kidnappings were only the latest in an increasingly lawless area. Accordng to Reuters, Sinai’s bedouins have protested what they say is discrimination and poor treatment from Cairo by taking hostages, attacking police and blocking access to towns.
The AP said Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said the bus was carrying 45 Brazilian tourists and that it had been stopped by a group of armed Bedouins and that the Egyptian Interior Ministry was negotiating to free the women.
The tourists were near St. Catherine’s Monastery, a sixth-century edifice near the foot of Mount Sinai, according to the news agency, which said area tribesmen have in the past kidnapped tourists for use in bargaining for the release of detained relatives.
The AP said an Egyptian official said the abductors were Bedouins who had a relative held on drugs and weapons charges.
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Three South Korean women and two American women were kidnapped and released unharmed in separate incidents last month, according to the AP.
Reuters said two dozen Chinese cement factory workers were kidnapped last month and released a day later and that on Friday, dozens of armed Bedouins had lifted an eight-day siege of an encampment by a multinational peacekeeping force after negotiating with the army.