Americans Taken Hostage While Retracing Jesus’ Footsteps Freed

Monday, 16 Jul 2012 10:49 AM

By Patrick Hobin

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Two American tourists abducted in Egypt's Sinai region were released on Monday after three days in captivity, Egyptian state television reported.

Egyptian authorities had sought help from local tribal leaders to mediate with a Bedouin tribesman who kidnapped U.S. pastor Michel Louis, an American woman, and their Egyptian tour guide on Friday to protest the jailing of his uncle on drug charges.

The three hostages, two of them American, were kidnapped while retracing Jesus' steps through the Holy Land in the Sinai Peninsula, Fox News reported.

One of the hostages, Rev. Michel Louis, is a 61-year-old pastor of a Boston Pentecostal church. He and two others were being held captive by Jirmy Abu-Masuh, an Egyptian Bedouin. An armed Abu-Masuh stopped the bus they were riding on a road linking Cairo to Mount Sinai and ordered the three to get off.

The road brings tourists from Cairo to the 6th-century St. Catherine's Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai, the site where, according to the Old Testament, Moses received the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments. The route is often targeted by Bedouins who abduct tourists to pressure police to meet their demands.

"Any other family or anybody that has loved ones that are in a situation like that can feel . . . a bit uneasy," Rev. Jean Louis, son of Rev. Michel Louis, said, according to Fox News. "In spirit, we are confident, we believe in God and we know that our God is active and is real and is gonna intervene on our behalf."

There were 23 other members of the clergy and worshippers on the bus when it was stopped Friday. A 39-year-old Boston woman in the group and a tour guide were also being held captive, according to Fox News.

The abductor, Abu-Masuh, said the hostages would be released only after police release his uncle from prison. Egyptian officials rejected his demands and said they will not release the uncle until he completes a 15-day prison sentence for possession of drugs, according to Fox News. Abu-Masuh says his uncle was jailed for refusing to pay the police a bribe.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brought up the case when she met with her Egyptian counterpart in Cairo on Saturday, according to Fox News. Egyptian officials are enlisting local negotiators hoping to end the hostage situation, Reuters reported.

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