Freed hostages return, officials say no ransom paid

1. Wide of plane carrying hostages taxiing at military airport
2. Cutaway of military officials on tarmac
3. Plane taxiing
4. Officials walking towards plane
5. Freed tourists disembarking, greeted by officials
6. Tourists walking across tarmac
7. Various of tourists speaking with officials and media
8. Various of tourists walking across tarmac
9. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Zoheir Garana, Egyptian Tourism Minister:
“The only thing every one knows for sure right now is that there was no ransom paid for the rescue of the tourists. No ransom was paid by any country, and they have all arrived safely and were transferred to Maadi Military hospital.”
10. Wide of helicopter
A kidnapped group of 11 European tourists and eight Egyptians has arrived at a Cairo military airport after being freed in a military operation near the Sudan-Chadian border.
The freed captives, who included five Germans, five Italians, a Romanian and eight Egyptian guides and drivers, were brought by a military plane to Cairo on Monday, greeted at the airport by officials bearing bouquets of flowers.
Egyptian tourism minister Zoheir Garana said all are well, and have been taken to a military hospital for check-ups.
He told reporters at the airport no ransom was paid for the rescue of the tourists.
The operation ends a 10-day hostage drama that took the 11 Europeans and their eight Egyptian drivers and guides across a barren stretch of the Sahara Desert.
They were seized by gunmen on September 19 while on a desert safari trip in a remote corner of southwestern Egypt.
Their abductors took them to Sudan. Reports followed that they were then taken to Libya, or perhaps even Chad.
An Egyptian security official said they were rescued in a joint operation near the Sudanese-Chadian border late on Sunday or early Monday.
He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the press.
Egyptian Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi said “half the kidnappers” were killed in the rescue operation, according to the state news agency MENA, but the report did not give a precise number or give details on the rescue.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini suggested Italian and German special forces were involved.

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