Two American tourists in Sinai were kidnapped on Thursday.
Egyptian security forces said the pair appear to have been taken by members of a local tribe in reprisal for the arrest of an alleged drug dealer.
Intermediaries for the tribes have already approached journalists and issued a call for the release of the alleged drug dealer, among other demands.
According to reports, the tourists were stopped by gunmen as they were travelling from the resort of Dahab, near Israel.
The Sinai peninsula has become a hotbed of terror activity and lawlessness since the ouster of Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak last year, with the gas pipeline feeding Israel being attacked over a dozen times.
Israeli officials, noting the increase in terror activity targeting Israel from Sinai, have described the Sinai as a “launching pad” for terrorism. Israel routinely issues travel warnings for the Sinai.
A deadly cross-border ambush of a civilian bus that killed 8 Israelis last August was staged from Sinai, as was the pre-Passover rocket attack on Eilat this year. Israeli security forces have arrested several terrorists planning attacks on Israel from Sinai in recent months.
Several kidnappings of tourists and other foreigners have been staged in the past year, as well. The victims are usually released fairly quickly.
Thursday’s kidnapping differs from previous kidnappings in that it occured on the resort laden coastal strip, shattering the illusion of safety many tourists have.