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Egypt Tour Guide Takes 4 Hostages

March 13, 2001

LUXOR, Egypt (AP) _ An Egyptian tour guide armed with a handgun took four German tourists hostage, refusing to release them unless his estranged wife brings the couple’s children back from Germany, police and German officials said Tuesday.

Ibrahim Ali el-Sayyed Moussa, 45, kidnapped the four Monday in an area south of the ancient city of Luxor, police said. They said he was using a mobile phone to speak with authorities in Germany and was refusing to speak with local police.

The hostages told German authorities they were in good condition but that Moussa was armed with a handgun and some kind of explosive, said German Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Michaelis in Berlin.

In a telephone interview with Abu Dhabi Television, Moussa said he was not armed. He also said he had begged his estranged wife to send him the children and blamed the German government for blocking a settlement with her.

``I have been trying with the German government for nine months to resolve this issue, but it put up obstacles,″ Moussa said.

The receptionist at a hotel in Luxor where the four German men were apparently staying identified them as Peter Novotnick, Paing Christoph, Ralf Lane and Wedekind Marco. The names came from their passports, said Hagag Hafez of the Geddis Hotel.

Police initially said the four were being held in an area between Luxor and Esna, two pharaonic cities along the Nile River. Luxor, about 280 miles south of Cairo, is home to the great temples of Luxor and Karnak and the nearby Valley of the Kings tomb complex. The Temple of Esna, another 25 miles south, dates from the time the Romans ruled Egypt.

Later, the officials said Moussa was at a house near Karnak and that police were conducting negotiations with him via mobile phone.

Police said Moussa’s German wife took the two youngest of their three children _ boys aged 7 and 3 _ to Germany. The eldest, a daughter in high school, was in Egypt with her father. Police quoted Moussa as saying he would not release the four until he sees his sons at Luxor airport.

Police said the couple married in 1991 and the wife left with their sons a year and a half ago following a marital dispute.

In Berlin, Michaelis told reporters that an Egyptian citizen called the German Embassy in Cairo Monday afternoon and said he had four hostages. Michaelis said the man demanded his children be released to him in Egypt.

Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has spoken to his Egyptian counterpart, Amr Moussa, and a German Embassy representative was sent to Luxor.

Fischer also talked to German Interior Minister Otto Schily about sending in an elite German rescue force, Michaelis said, but the Egyptians turned down the offer.

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