AL-ARISH: Three South Korean women were freed on Saturday a day after they were kidnapped by armed tribesmen in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula when clan elders negotiated their release, a security official said.
The head of security in South Sinai Maj. Gen. Mohamed Naguib said that the three women and their Egyptian tour guide were kidnapped on Friday by tribesmen wanting to pressure Egyptian authorities to release their detained relatives.
Naguib said tourists were abducted around 30 kilometers from the sixth-century St. Catherine’s Monastery, close to where two Americans were taken last week.
In both incidents, tribesmen took some of the passengers from a tour vehicle while leaving others behind.
Naguib said security officials and tribal elders negotiated their release with the captor, Ali Dikheil, who he said was imprisoned for drug and weapons crimes but broke out during the popular uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11, 2011.
It was not immediately clear whether the Bedouin’s demand was met.
"The captives were released at around 8:35 pm (Saturday) and safely arrived at the Catherine Plaza Hotel where fellow travelers were waiting," an official from Seoul’s foreign ministry official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Lee Min-Sung, a Seoul church pastor and one of the freed South Koreans, told Yonhap news agency that they were "well treated" by the kidnappers who offered ample food and blankets during the 29-hour captivity.
"We were not assaulted. They treated us nicely," the 53-year-old was quoted as saying, adding that all the captives were in good health.
The four would continue the 10-day trip to visit other sites in Israel and Jordan before returning to Seoul on Friday, Yonhap said.
It was the latest in a series of kidnappings in Sinai. The peninsula has seen a surge in lawlessness over the last year, but abducted tourists are rarely harmed.
Two American women kidnapped last week said afterward that their captors served them tea and dried fruit.
Two dozen Chinese cement factory workers were also kidnapped this month and released a day later in an incident Chinese officials said would not impact on their work in Sinai.