Top Egyptian diplomat: Hostages freed safe

NEW YORK (AP) -- Egypt's foreign minister says 11 European tourists taken hostage in a remote part of Egypt have been released unharmed.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the group was captured by "gangsters." He did not say how he knew of their release, or whether a ransom was paid. Aboul Gheit spoke briefly to U.S. reporters while in New York for the annual gathering of the United Nations General Assembly.

Kidnappers seized 11 European tourists and eight Egyptians on Friday during a Sahara desert safari to an area plateau famed for its prehistoric cave paintings. The tour company had been negotiating with the captors, who demanded millions of dollars in ransom.

The group included five Germans, five Italians and one Romanian.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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