The two elderly American women who were kidnapped in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula earlier on Friday were released several hours later.
According to Egypt's Tourism Ministry, the two women were released in good health and had not been ill-treated.
They've been released and our embassy, our mission in Egypt, stands ready to provide all consular assistance to them. We appreciate the efforts of the authorities in securing the release of the citizens, said a U.S. State Department official quoted by ABC News.
On the way to the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from St. Catherine's monastery, a vehicle of armed and masked Bedouin men stopped the tourist bus carrying the two American women. After robbing the tourists, the Bedouins kidnapped the American women and fled towards the mountains.
Thanks to negotiations between Egyptian authorities and tribal leaders, the two women were finally released from captivity. The kidnappers were demanding the release of other Bedouins who had been incarcerated for robbery and drug trafficking.
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Reuters reports that a Bedouin source confirmed an agreement was made for four Bedouins to be released from prison in exchange for the two American hostages.
Security in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula continues to deteriorate. Earlier this week, 25 Chinese workers were captured and released also by Bedouin men.
Bedouins have generally aimed their ire at Egypt's central government asince they feel they are being socially and economically discriminated against.
According to reports, the semi-nomadic Bedouin tribes number some 380,000 in Egypt, principally in the Sinai. There are also large Bedouin populations in Libya, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.