2 U.S. tourists abducted in Egypt freed

5:35 PM, Jul 16, 2012   |    comments
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The Rev. Michel Louis (left) of the Free Pentecostal Church of God in Boston, and Lissa Alphonse of Everett, Mass., were abducted (along with an Egyptian guide) in the Sinai Peninsula. (AP Photo, Family of Rev. Michel Louis; WBZ)



Two American tourists who were kidnapped in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday have been released, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo has confirmed to CBS News.

Rev. Michel Louis, 61, a Boston pastor, and Lissa Alphonse, 39, of Everett, Mass., had been abducted, along with an Egyptian guide, as their tour group was traveling on a church trip to Mount Sinai.

The hostage-taker, an Egyptian Bedouin named Jirmy Abu-Masuh, had said he would not free the two Americans until his uncle was released from jail. He said his uncle was detained for refusing to pay the police a bribe.

Abu-Masuh also vowed to take more hostages, of different nationalities, if his demands were not met.

Egyptian officials said Monday they would not release the uncle until he completes a 15-day prison sentence for possession of drugs.

The abduction took place along the road linking Cairo to the sixth-century St. Catherine's Monastery, located at the foot of Mount Sinai where the Old Testament says Moses received the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments. The route is a frequent target by Bedouins who abduct tourists to pressure police to meet their demands, usually to release a detained relative they say has been unjustly arrested.

Friday's abduction was the latest in a series of kidnappings in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula over the past year. Abducted tourists are rarely harmed and usually released within days.

Abu-Masuh, of the Tarbeen tribe in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, told the AP that Egypt's Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri called him personally and asked him to release the Americans "who are guests in our country." He said his uncle called him from prison pleading the same and fearing police might arrest his children or wife to pressure Abu-Masuh.

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