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NBC: 2 Americans kidnapped in Egypt released, police say

Two Americans who were taken hostage in Egypt have been released. NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin reports.

 

Updated at 1:03 p.m. ET: CAIRO -- NBC's Charlene Gubash reports the three former hostages, including two American women, were released to military officials and not police because police are mistrusted by the Egyptian Bedouin tribesmen.

The Governor of South Sinai has also invited the Americans for dinner, Gubash reports. Their itinerary includes Sharm, Cairo to visit pyramids and Alexandria.

Updated at 10:37 a.m. ET:  CAIRO -- South Sinai Police Chief Maj. Gen. Mohammed Naguib tells The Associated Press that he has sent a car to pick up the kidnapping Americans after the deal was made following negotiations with Egyptian Bedouin tribesmen.


 

The two American women and one guide were seized Friday from a minivan that was returning them from the monastery to the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.  Naguib said earlier the kidnappers wanted the release of fellow tribesmen who were arrested but he isn't releasing details about the negotiations.

NBC's Charlene Gubash says the tourists were on a tour with Seed-Faith Foundation, described online as faith-based travel. 

Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET: Two American tourists kidnapped in Egypt on Friday have been released, local police tell NBC News.

Updated at 10 a.m. ET: Egyptian generals are negotiating with Bedouin tribesmen thought to have kidnapped two Americans and their guides near a popular Red Sea resort on Friday, NBC News' Charlene Gubash reports from Cairo.

Thousands of people poured into Cairo's Tahrir Square, where tear gas was used to disperse the crowd. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

The kidnappers are demanding the release of of 33 Bedouins detained last week, she says, adding that Egyptian police now know the whereabouts of the hostages.

Updated at 9:10 a.m. ET: The U.S. State Department said it was working to confirm the citizenship of the two tourists who were kidnapped along with their guide in Egypt on Friday.

 

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo released the following statement to NBC News:

"Egyptian authorities have confirmed to us that two tourists, who they say are American citizens, have been kidnapped in Sinai. We are trying to confirm their citizenship and in the meantime are working closely with the Egyptian authorities to do everything possible to ensure the tourists' safety."

Updated at 7:10 a.m. ET: Two American tourists and their guide have been kidnapped near a popular Red Sea resort in Egypt, South Sinai's chief of police confirmed to NBC News Friday.

Egypt protesters besiege Cairo ministry

The news came just days after Bedouin tribesmen released about two dozen Chinese cement factory workers taken hostage in the country last week.

Egypt has faced deteriorating security and a surge in crime since the popular uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak nearly a year
ago. Protesters accuse the military council that has assumed power and the police force of negligence.

On Friday, the military and police officials told The Associated Press that abductors sped away in a sedan and a pickup truck after taking the Americans, leaving behind three other people who had been in the minivan. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information, did not know the nationalities of those left behind.

The group had been traveling between St. Catherine's Monastery to the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Authorities said a search was under way.

Chinese abducted
On Saturday, 29 Chinese workers were captured by rebels in the Sudanese border state of South Kordofan. The 25 workers freed on Wednesday were in good condition, China's Xinhua news agency said, citing an embassy official there, Ma Jianchun.

Analysis: Egyptians share blame in soccer tragedy

Residents of Sinai say they are neglected by the central government in Cairo, and periodically attack police stations and block access to towns, villages and industrial sites to show their discontent.

The isolated desert region has become more lawless since an uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak a year ago and threw the security apparatus into disarray.

Original post: Two American tourists in Egypt have been kidnapped, South Sinai's chief of police confirmed to NBC News on Friday.

Five tourists were on their way from St. Catherine's Monastery to the very popular Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh, the police told NBC News. He added that Bedouin tribesmen took two and an Egyptian guide and let the remaining three go with the car.

The two are most likely being held to exchange for release of prisoners and land the Bedouin tribe want, NBC reported. They may have also been kidnapped in revenge for a recent crackdown by police.

NBC News, msnbc.com staff, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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