CAIRO: Local and international media continue to follow up on the kidnapping of 11 European tourists and eight Egyptians with conflicting news reports as the hostage situation enters its fifth day.
Minister of Information Anas Al-Fiqqi on Tuesday retracted his decision to impose a publishing ban on the incident, after local media continued to report on the incident, disregarding his initial decree.
On Saturday, 11 tourists and eight Egyptians were kidnapped by a masked gang in Karkur Talh in the remote southern area of Gilf El-Kabir near the Sudanese border.
Pan-Arab Al-Hayat daily newspaper reported that a government spokesperson said the kidnappers were from Djibouti, while other governmental officials indicated that only one of the kidnappers was from Chad while the other three were Sudanese.
On the other hand, Al-Jazeera news channel quoted Egyptian sources saying that the kidnappers were from Chad and at the same time reported that an official at the Sudanese Foreign Ministry said that the kidnappers were all Egyptian.
News reports have also indicated that representatives from both the German and Italian governments are involved in the negotiations with the kidnappers.
However, other reports claimed that they are only monitoring the situation.
Egypt s independent Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported that five pieces of luggage had been found scattered inside Egypt, apparently thrown from moving vehicles.
On Wednesday, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that some Sudanese forces were laying siege to a remote desert hideout in the location where the criminal group has kidnapped the tourists.
AFP also reported that Egypt has sent a team to Sudan to help resolve the matter.
A Sudanese official said the hostages are alive and that negotiations are still in process with the kidnappers, who have asked for a $15 million ransom, the news agency reported.
Ali Youssef, director of protocol at the foreign ministry told AFP that all the kidnapped tourists are safe, adding that the Sudanese government is in direct and permanent contact with the Egyptian, German, Italian and Roman authorities to exchange information.
Youssef also told AFP that Germany was in contact with the kidnappers.
Egypt also denied reports the kidnappers had threatened to kill the hostages if any attempt were made to rescue them, according to AFP.
Those abducted included five Germans, five Italians [three women and two men] and one Romanian. Of the eight Egyptians, four were drivers, two were tour guides, one was a border guard and the final one was the owner of the travel company responsible for the safari. They were traveling in four cars.