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TRAVEL

Kidnap victims told: ‘You’re going to die now’

An Israeli man who was kidnapped with a Norwegian companion by armed Bedouin in Egypt's Sinai peninsula last week has arrived home, telling reporters that they had been threatened with death.

Kidnap victims told: 'You're going to die now'
The southern resort of Dahab, Egypt, where the tourists were going before they were kidnapped. Photo: jay8085

"They set a trap for us with two jeeps that stopped us," Israeli Arab Amir Omar Hassan told reporters on his arrival late Tuesday at Ben Gurion airport.

"About ten armed men got out and threw us in the back of the jeeps," he said in remarks broadcast Wednesday by Israeli radio stations. "They said shut up, you're going to die now."

Hassan, 23, was greeted at the airport by family then taken to his home to Nazareth.

Haaretz daily quoted him as saying that he and 31-year-old Norwegian Ingvild Selvik Ask, who had asked to share his taxi, were abducted on Thursday as they travelled from the Red Sea resort of Taba, on the border with Israel, to the coastal town of Dahab further south.

They were set free early on Tuesday thanks to the efforts of Bedouin tribesmen, said an Egyptian security official cited by state news agency MENA.

The Norwegian foreign ministry confirmed the release of Ask, a paediatrician.

"We are relieved and happy that the situation has unravelled," spokeswoman Ragnhild Imerslund told AFP in Oslo. "She was apparently treated well and is in good shape."

A spate of hostage takings, which usually last for no longer than 48 hours, broke out in the restive Sinai after an uprising forced out president Hosni Mubarak in early 2011 and battered his security services.

The kidnappers are normally Bedouin who want to trade the hostages for jailed fellow tribesmen.

Israel's foreign ministry praised Egypt for its handling of the matter.

"Israel wishes to thank the Egyptian authorities for their quick, efficient and successful action for the release of the kidnapped Israeli and Norwegian tourists," spokesman Yigal Palmor said in a statement.

"We all share the happiness of the Hassan family upon the homecoming of their son, Amir."

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TRAVEL

Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany

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