CAIRO - Gunmen briefly kidnapped a soldier serving with an international peacekeeping force in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Thursday, Egyptian security sources and witnesses said.
Men carrying automatic weapons stopped a bus at a roadblock near the Multinational Force and Observers' (MFO) base in Jura in northern Sinai and took away a Hungarian soldier at gunpoint to an unknown location.The sources said the kidnappers demanded the release of prisoners held for alleged fuel smuggling but later released the soldier after local Bedouin tribal leaders intervened.
An MFO officer in Jura said he could not comment on the incident and referred reporters to the force's head office in Rome, where no one was available.
The MFO has monitored peace in the area since the IDF withdrew under a 1979 peace treaty with Egypt.
Egyptian security forces have been trying to crack down on lawlessness in the vast desert region since Islamist gunmen attacked an Egyptian border post with Israel last August, killing 16 soldiers.