Two Americans reunited with their families Tuesday in northern Israel, a day after kidnappers freed them unharmed following three days of captivity in Egypt. Kidnappers in Egypt released the two Americans and their tour guide Monday after holding them hostage since Friday.
Lisa Alphonse and Michel Louis have joined relatives and other members of their church group in Tiberias, Louis said. Louis is the pastor of a Pentecostal church in Boston while Alphonse is a parishioner at another American church.Kidnappers seized the three Friday in Egypt’s Sinai region after gunmen boarded their tour bus, which was on its way to Israel, family members said.
Louis offered himself as a hostage when gunmen took the female parishioner, according to the Rev. Jean Louis, his son. "Being the leader of the missionary group, my mom said that … he stood up and he just asked that they leave the lady and take him. So this is why there’s two people in addition to the translator detained right now somewhere in Egypt," he said.
Michel Louis’ wife was on the bus when the kidnapping occurred. The family was not aware of security concerns in the Sinai region, where Americans had been kidnapped and swiftly released in two separate incidents since February, Jean Louis said. "If we were aware, I would believe we would use correct judgment not to enter that area," he said.
Kidnappings and armed robberies have increased since a popular uprising ousted Egypt’s long-ruling dictator, Hosni Mubarak, last year. In the latest incident, the alleged kidnapper, Germy Abu Masouh, is a member of a prominent Bedouin tribe in the Sinai. He had demanded Egyptian police free his uncle imprisoned in Alexandria on drug charges.
Authorities did not give in to kidnappers’ demands, Egyptian officials said.