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US tourists kidnapped in Egypt released unharmed

Two US tourists kidnapped this morning in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula have been released, following negotiations with Bedouin tribesmen.

Sinai Egypt American tourists kidnapped 03 02 2012Enlarge
A Bedouin walks on Mount Moses in the Sinai Peninsula. (AFP/Getty Images)

Two US tourists kidnapped this morning in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula have been released, according to reports.

They were freed after negotiations between the Bedouin tribesmen holding them and local police and government officials, the BBC reported.

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Gunmen reportedly abducted the two men – who are both in their early 30s – while they were travelling by car from Dahab to the resort of Nuweiba early Thursday, according to the Associated Press. The two resorts are on the Red Sea's Gulf of Aqaba. 

The Americans are now with Egyptian authorities, a security source told Reuters.

The source said that Bedouin sheikhs had helped mediate the negotiations. 

It is unclear whether the kidnappers' demands were met. An Interior Ministry official told Bloomberg that the gunmen, members of the Tarabeen tribe, were calling for the release of a fellow tribesman who was arrested for alleged possession of drugs. 

According to CNN, kidnappings of tourists and other foreigners have become increasingly common in the Sinai since former president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown last year, though, as in this case, those abducted are usually released before long.

In February two female US tourists were kidnapped in the area but released after four Bedouin tribesmen were freed by the authorities.

The Sinai is one of the most underdeveloped areas in Egypt, and Bedouins have long complained of a lack of government services.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/120531/two-us-tourists-kidnapped-egypts-sinai