The head of Egyptian security in North Sinai and the kidnapper said two Americans from the Boston area and their Egyptian tour guide, abducted four days ago, have been released.
Gen. Ahmed Bakr said the three are now in the protection of Egyptian security officials in Sinai.
The kidnapper, Jirmy Abu-Masuh, said he freed them Monday after officials promised they would work on releasing his uncle from prison.
He told The Associated Press by telephone after releasing the Americans that he wanted to grant them mercy, because they had nothing to do with his dispute with police.
The Boston-area residents, the Rev. Michel Louis, of Boston, and Lissa Alphonse, of Everett, and their tour guide were abducted along a Sinai road to a Christian monastery on Friday.
Update at 1:35 p.m.: Massachusetts' U.S. senators have released statements following the hostages' release. Sen. John Kerry, in part:
What began as a sightseeing tour turned into an unimaginable nightmare for these Massachusetts families and thank God that nightmare is coming to an end. ... We’ve been in regular contact with the reverend’s family and we’re now working with Ambassador Patterson to find a way for them to communicate with their loved ones. I’m hoping that will happen soon and we will help in any way possible to return them to their families on American soil.
Sen. Scott Brown:
Everyone’s prayers have been answered. I am thankful to all the American and Egyptian authorities who worked day and night to bring about the safe release of Michel Louis and Lissa Alphonse. This is an emotional day for the families and all their supporters in Massachusetts.
Update at 3:30 p.m.: Family members and parishioners in Boston are celebrating the release of Louis and Alphonse.
In Dorchester, the Rev. Jean Louis was overwhelmed at the news of his father's release.
"I'm sure in a few days I'll be able to answer all questions," he said. "I just want to be with my family. I want to hear my father, I want to hear my father."
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom
This program aired on July 16, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.