Israeli Arab, Norwegian kidnapped in Sinai released

Amir Hassan and Ingvild Selvik Ask were kidnapped four days ago on their way to Taba; say kidnappers treated them well.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF, REUTERS
March 27, 2013 07:14
2 minute read.
Amir Hassan, an Israeli Arab student from Nazareth, kidnapped in Sinai March 22, 2013.

Israeli kidnapped in Sinai 370. (photo credit: nsrawy.net)

 
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Kidnappers released an Israeli Arab man and a Norwegian woman held in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula following negotiations mediated by Beduin leaders between authorities and the group that seized the tourists four days ago, security sources said on Tuesday.

The two have been identified as Amir Hassan, a 34-year-old Israeli Arab from Nazareth who studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, and Norwegian Ingvild Selvik Ask, aged 32.

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The kidnappers were not captured and no ransom has been paid, journalist Muhammad Fadel Fahmy said on his Twitter page.

Following their release, Ask traveled to the Norwegian Embassy in Cairo, from which she will travel back to Norway, while Hassan safely returned to Israel on Tuesday night

Masked gunmen in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula kidnapped the two traveling between two coastal resorts, Egyptian and Israeli officials said on Friday.

The pair was traveling in a car between Taba, near the Israeli border, and Dahab, a sea resort further south, when Beduin gunmen in a pickup truck captured them, Egyptian security sources said.

The sources said the kidnappers’ aim was to put pressure on Egyptian authorities to release two of their relatives held for alleged drug dealing.



It did not appear that the Israeli had been targeted because of his nationality, two Israeli officials in Jerusalem said.

“Our initial assessment is that this was criminally motivated,” one said.

Egyptian news agency ONA reported that the two were released after members of the Beduin Tarabin tribe promised to provide the kidnappers with internal files on their relatives imprisoned in Ismailia. Additionally, the Egyptian police had agreed to review the case of the imprisoned relatives of the kidnappers.

Selvik Ask told ONA that the kidnappers treated her and Hassan well, but that their four days in captivity were tough.

Hassan likewise described the captivity as tiring, despite the fact they were well cared for.

Security in the Sinai desert region has deteriorated since the overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak two years ago.

Beduin kidnappers have captured tourists in the past to push for the release of fellow tribesmen from jail. Earlier this month kidnappers briefly seized the country manager of US oil major ExxonMobil and his wife.

Two American female tourists were kidnapped in Sinai in February last year but Egyptian authorities negotiated their release a few hours later. Two other US tourists were seized in late May that year, and two more US tourists in July. The captives were released within days in both cases.

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