Libyan official doubts kidnapped tourists in Libya

TRIPOLI, Libya - A Libyan foreign ministry official expressed doubts Friday that a 19-member European tour group kidnapped a week ago during an Egyptian safari has been taken by its captors to Libya.

The official said Libyan authorities have been searching for the kidnapped tourists since they were reported to have crossed into Libya with their abductors, but that those efforts yielded no success.

"All this ... implies that they are not on Libyan soil," he said of the kidnapped. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media about the hostage crisis.

His remarks added a new twist to the week long ordeal of the 11 European tourists and their eight Egyptian guides and drivers.

The 19 were snatched by gunmen while on a desert safari to Gilf al-Kebir, a remote desert plateau famed for its prehistoric cave drawings in the far south east corner of Egypt, near the Libyan and Sudanese borders.

The region is uninhabited but it is a crossroads for smugglers, including drug traffickers, most of whom are from desert tribes in surrounding areas. The area is also accessible to the conflict-torn regions of eastern Chad and Sudan's Darfur region, where armed groups often engage in banditry and vehicle hijackings

The kidnapped group includes five Germans, five Italians and a Romanian. Two of the Italians are in their 70s.

The Sudanese government said earlier that it had tracked the kidnappers and that they moved their captives from Sudan into Libya on Thursday. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali Youssef said the Sudanese had watched the group since it moved into Sudan soon after last Friday's abduction in Egypt but didn't try to capture them, fearing an assault would endanger the hostages.

Youssef had also said the hostages were taken 10 miles (15 kilometers) inside Libyan territory and that Libyan authorities were brought in to coordinate with Egypt and Sudan on the case.

Egyptian officials said they had no information on the reported move from Sudan to Libya.

The kidnappers, believed to be desert tribesmen, are demanding a ransom, reportedly of up to US$15 million, and Germany has been negotiating with them, but there has been no word on the progress of these contacts.

German officials only established direct contact with the kidnappers on Wednesday, according to Egyptian and Sudanese officials. Before that, negotiations were taking place through phone calls between the Egyptian owner of the tour company that organized the safari — who was among those kidnapped — and his German wife, who lives in Egypt.

There have also been disparate claims on the identities of the kidnappers. - AP

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
Procurement Consultant
Gsm:  +250-08470205
Home: +250-55104140
P.O. Box 3867
East Africa
Blog: http://www.cepgl.blogspot.com
Skype ID : Kayisa66

No comments:

Post a Comment