Tuesday, 23 September 2008 12:00 AM
Talks to secure the release of 15 tourists kidnapped in Egypt have been described as “ongoing” by authorities in the region.
This comes despite a suggestion of their release by Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abul Gheit, who had previously claimed they were “safe and sound” ahead of a meeting with American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in New York.
However, cabinet spokesman, Magdy Radi, later stated: “It is premature to say they are released. The negotiations are still continuing.”
Mr Radi added the hostage takers had demanded a ransom of $6 million (Â£3.2 million) for the release of the hostages, believed to include five Italians, five Germans and a Romanian, along with a number of Egyptians.
The group was believed to be on Safari on the Gilf al-Kabir, a sandstone plateau famous for its cave paintings, at the time of incident, near the border with Sudan.
This had led to fears the group may be difficult to reach, across the border in Sudan.
While the kidnapping of tourists is uncommon in the region, this is the second incident in 2008, following the abduction of European archaeologist and his party from Karkuk Talh earlier this year.
The group were taken deep into Sudan by rebels from Darfur’s Sudan Liberation Army, but were released unharmed.