A group of nineteen tourists and guides who had been taken hostage by an armed gang in Egypt have been freed unharmed. The 11 Europeans and eight Egyptians are said to have been rescued in a military operation in which a number of their kidnappers were killed. They were flown to Cairo after their release. It is thought they were being held somewhere in the Egyptian/Sudanese border region.
But there is confusion over the circumstances of their liberation. Egyptian officials said it was the result of a “rescue and recovery operation.” Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini was quoted as saying Italian special forces took part in securing their release. But Sudanese officials said, after a gun battle with security forces, the gang had abandoned the hostages who then crossed the border into Egypt. An Egyptian spokesman denied a ransom had been paid.