Islamist Militants Release Seven Members of Egyptian Security Forces Kidnapped in Sinai

Six Egyptian policemen and a soldier were freed following talks with kidnappers, who demanded the release of convicted militants, sources say.

Seven members of the Egyptian security forces kidnapped by Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula last week were released on Wednesday, the army said.

Security sources said they were freed following talks mediated by local Bedouin tribal leaders. The men were handed over to the army in an area south of Rafah, near the border with Israel.

The six policemen and one soldier were abducted by gunmen demanding the release of members of an Islamist group convicted of carrying out a series of attacks in 2011 that killed seven people.

The kidnapping highlighted lawlessness in the Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel, enraged Egyptian security forces and piled domestic pressure on President Mohammed Morsi to act.

A statement posted on the army spokesman's Facebook page said the seven had been freed "as a result of the efforts of the military intelligence in cooperation with the tribal leaders and the honorable people of Sinai" and were on their way to Cairo. It gave no further details.

The army sent reinforcements to Sinai earlier this week as part of its efforts to secure the release of the men who were abducted as they travelled between the North Sinai towns of El-Arish and Rafah.