Egypt, Sudan join efforts to find 11 abducted tourists, 8 guides - 2

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Egypt has sent a group of military experts to Sudan to coordinate the search for 19 people, including 11 foreigners, abducted in southwest Egypt last week, local television said on Tuesday.
(Adds Sudanese Foreign Ministry's statements in paras. 5-6)

CAIRO, September 23 (RIA Novosti) - Egypt has sent a group of military experts to Sudan to coordinate the search for 19 people, including 11 foreigners, abducted in southwest Egypt last week, local television said on Tuesday.

Reports of the kidnapping of five Germans, five Italians, and one Romanian and their eight Egyptian guides, who were on a desert safari near the border with Sudan, first appeared in the media on Monday, but it was unclear exactly when the group was abducted.

Tourism Minister Zoheir Garranah said in interview with the MENA news agency on Monday that the tourists and their Egyptian guides were abducted last Friday, but that Egyptian authorities were put on alert only on Monday after one of the kidnapped Egyptians - the owner of a local tourist company - called his wife on a cell phone.

Media reports said on Tuesday that the abductors, who are reportedly demanding a ransom of $8.8 million, threatened to kill the hostages if the Egyptian authorities attempt to determine where they were hiding.

A spokesman for the Sudanese Foreign Ministry said the abductors are holding the tourists in the no-man's land where the Sudanese, Egyptian and Libyan borders meet.

He said there are no plans to free the captives by force, as this could endanger their lives.

The Egyptian Tourism Ministry earlier said that the kidnappers, whose nationality is still unknown, were "ordinary criminals" and not part of any terrorist organization.

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