Unidentified gunmen have kidnapped four Palestinians after stopping a bus in Egypt, officials have said. The rest of the passengers, who were travelling between Gaza and Cairo, were allowed to travel on.
A Hamas official and Egyptian security sources reported that the abduction occured Wednesday night in the northern Sinai region. Eyewitnesses reported that masked militants opened fire into the air, before fleeing with four people.
Security sources told the Reuters and Associated Press news agencies that the bus was heading from Gaza to Cairo's airport.
"We are making urgent contacts with the highest levels of Egyptian authorities to follow up on the circumstances of what happened and we urge the Egyptian interior ministry to secure the lives of the kidnapped passengers and free them," spokesman Eyad al-Bazoum said.
Nobody has as yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and authorities are still investigating, but eyewitnesses told The Associated Press that they believed the militants came from the Egyptian affiliate of the "Islamic State" group.
Calling itself "Sinai Province," the group is active in that part of the country, where an insurgency has grown since the army overthrew President Mohammed Morsi two years ago. The group has claimed a string of attacks on military and police targets in Egypt, something which prompted the Egyptian government to introduce broad "anti-terror" laws.
se/rc (AFP, Reuters, AP)