Home | News    Sunday 28 September 2008

Tourist-kidnappers are back to Sudan - official

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September 26, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — Kidnappers holding 11 European tourists and eight Egyptians are back to Sudan after crossing to the Libyan border, Sudanese foreign minister said today.

Yesterday Tripoli denied the presence of the kidnappers inside Libya. Libyan officials said Friday an extensive search for the hostages showed they are not on Libyan soil. On Thursday Sudan said the group had crossed into the neighbouring country.

Ambassador Ali Youssef head of protocol division at the foreign ministry stated on Saturday that Sudanese security service detected the return of hostage-takers inside Sudan. He further said that the group now is on its way to Egypt from eastern Jebel Oweinat, a mountain near the Sudan-Egypt border.

Five Germans, five Italians, a Romanian and eight Egyptians are kidnapped since last Friday while they were on a desert safari through the far southwest of Egypt. They had been in Sudan for the first time since last Tuesday.

The Sudanese official reassured that the hostages appear in good health.

Sudan alleged that Darfur rebels were behind of the abduction and since monitoring closely their movement. Khartoum also indicated it would not attack the hostage-takers to guarantee the safety of the tourists.

The kidnappers are demanding a ransom of as much as $15-million (U.S.), the Egyptian state news agency MENA reported. Germany is heading negotiations through the German wife of the Egyptian tour operator who is among the missing, according to Egyptian officials.

The identity of the gunmen who abducted them remains unclear. An Egyptian security official has said the kidnappers are "most likely Chadian". Sudan in a first time said they were Egyptian but after Khartoum said the nationalities of the kidnappers "remain unknown".

Darfur rebels denied any involvement in this abduction and described it as terrorist operation.

(ST)

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