Egypt's Morsi thankful for peaceful end to Sinai hostage crisis

Ahram Online , Wednesday 22 May 2013

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi praises army and police for securing release of seven hostages in Sinai Peninsula without bloodshed

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi receives released soldiers at Cairo's Al-Maza airbase Wednesday morning (Photo: The Egyptian presidency official Facebook page )

President Mohamed Morsi has praised all those who helped secure the release of seven hostages in the Sinai Peninsula.

He was talking at a press conference at Al-Maza military airport in Cairo shortly after the former hostages arrived on Wednesday morning.

A conscript of the armed forces and six police personnel were released early on Wednesday after being held by kidnappers for almost a week.

President Morsi thanked the military, interior ministry, general intelligence services and government for securing the hostages' release without bloodshed.

He also paid tribute to local tribal sheikhs for their support.

"This is an example of integration, cooperation and cohesion," Morsi said. "A model of prioritising the state and making the interests of its citizens our objective."

The army sent reinforcements to the Sinai Peninsula earlier this week as part of its efforts to free the captives and they will remain there for the time being, he added.

The crisis, "despite being painful," would be a starting point for promoting development in the peninsula, addressing its needs and granting its people full rights.

The kidnappers would be held to account, Morsi vowed.

He also called for anyone possessing illegal weapons to hand them over to the authorities.

"Only the armed forces and the interior ministry should have weapons according to regulations," he said

The armed forces will hold a press conference on Wednesday afternoon to reveal more details about the hostage crisis.

The crisis had put the president under pressure and enraged members of security forces. 

Egypt's Rafah border crossing with Gaza was re-opened on Wednesday morning after Egyptian guards ended their five-day strike in protest at the kidnapping.

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