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Page last updated at 14:47 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 15:47 UK

Egypt hostages 'moved to Libya'

Gilf al-Kebir excursion
The group were seized from the remote Gilf al-Kebir area last Friday

A group of 11 European tourists and eight Egyptian guides kidnapped in Egypt's desert have been moved to Libya, a Sudanese official has said.

The group had previously been taken from Egypt to Sudan. Sudanese foreign ministry official Ali Yusuf Ahmed said the hostages were safe.

The group were on a desert safari in south Egypt, near the borders of Sudan and Libya, and were seized last Friday.

The captives include five Germans, five Italians, and one Romanian.

Egyptian officials say the kidnappers are gangsters who are demanding several million dollars in ransom money.

They are not thought to have made any political demands as yet.

Darfur roads closed

Mr Ahmed said the hostages were being held some 13 km (eight miles) inside Libyan territory.

"The Libyan authorities have been informed," he said. "They are now following the progress of the group."

map

Mr Ahmed said the language of the kidnappers and the direction they were originally taking indicated that they could be part of a rebel faction from the Sudanese region of Darfur.

Roads into Darfur have been shut as a precautionary measure, he said.

Earlier this week, the group were spirited into Sudan from the remote Egyptian region of Gilf al-Kebir where they were seized.

The area, which is close to chronic conflict areas in western Sudan and eastern Chad, is sparsely populated and has virtually no police presence.

Gilf al-Kebir is a giant plateau famous for its prehistoric cave paintings, which featured in the 1996 film The English Patient.


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Country profile: Egypt
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