Sudanese forces claim to have killed six of the kidnappers who abducted 11 European tourists in a remote part of the Egyptian desert two weeks ago. A six-million euro ransom was asked in exchange for the hostages who are believed to be in Chad.
Sudanese forces have killed six bandits who kidnapped 19 European tourists and their Egyptian guides in a remote desert nine days ago, a top official told AFP on Sunday.
"Sudanese forces followed the tracks of the kidnappers from Jebel Uweinat (a mountain range on the Sudan-Libya-Egypt border) and found them on the Chad border," presidential advisor Mahjoub Fadl Badri said.
"Sudanese forces killed six, including the commander of a Darfur rebel group, and arrested two," he said.
"What the (captured) kidnappers say is that the hostages are still in Chad, they put them in a hideout and are still negotiating about them, but we have no details whether the Chadian army has moved in."
Earlier an official had said the 11 tourists and eight Egyptians, who were snatched at gunpoint during a desert safari on September 19, were "all well" and to appeared to be moving from Sudan towards Egypt.
An Egyptian security official told AFP that the kidnappers and German negotiators had agreed to a deal but that "negotiations were still ongoing to work out details."
The kidnappers have demanded that Germany take charge of payment of a six-million-euro (8.8-million-dollar) ransom, an Egyptian security official told AFP on Thursday.
They also want the ransom to be handed over to the German wife of the tour organiser.
The five Italians, five Germans, and one Romanian plus eight Egyptians -- two guides, four drivers, a guard and the organiser of the tour group -- were kidnapped on a desert plateau famous for prehistoric cave paintings, including the "Cave of the Swimmers" featured in the 1996 film "The English Patient."
The independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry al-Yom quoted an anonymous German official on Sunday as saying negotiations between German negotiators and the kidnappers had ended with the bandits' agreement to release the hostages soon.
An official at the German embassy in Cairo declined to comment. Germany has kept quiet about its role in any negotiations, saying only that it has set up a crisis team.
The group was moved across the border to Sudan to the remote mountain region of Jebel Uweinat, a 1,900-metre-high (6,200-foot) plateau roughly 30 kilometres (20 miles) in diameter that straddles the borders of Egypt, Libya and Sudan.
On Thursday the kidnappers were reported to have moved across the border into Libya, although officials there denied this.
There are conflicting reports about the nationality of the hostage-takers, with different sources saying they were from Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Chad or even Djibouti.
One travel agent told AFP that in January a German group was attacked and robbed in the same area. They were abandoned in the desert with nothing but a satellite telephone. It is not known who carried out that attack.
Kidnappings of foreigners are extremely rare in Egypt, although in 2001 an armed Egyptian held four German tourists hostage for three days in Luxor, demanding that his estranged wife bring his two sons back from Germany. He freed the hostages unharmed.
Bomb attacks aimed at foreigners have been more common, with the most recent occurring between 2004 and 2006 in popular Red Sea resorts, killing dozens of people, including foreign tourists.
Date created : 2008-09-28