Gunmen kidnapped two Brazilian tourists travelling through the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday after a visit to an isolated mountain monastery, security sources said.
The gunmen were believed to be Bedouin who wanted hostages to negotiate the release of prisoners held by the government, the sources said.
They stopped a bus carrying a group of tourists to St. Catherine's Monastery but only took the two Brazilian women. The government was contacting local Bedouin sheikhs to try to negotiate the women's release, the sources added.
Bedouin tribesmen in the Sinai have attacked police stations, blocked access to towns and taken hostages to show their discontent with what they see as poor treatment from Cairo and to press for the release of jailed kinsmen.
Last month, two American women were held in a short-lived kidnapping until Egyptian authorities negotiated their release a few hours later. Two dozen Chinese cement factory workers were also kidnapped last month and released a day later.
Dozens of armed Bedouin this month encircled a camp belonging to a multinational peacekeeping force in the Sinai for eight days before lifting their siege on Friday after negotiations with the Egyptian army.
Those Bedouin had also been trying to pressure the Egyptian authorities to release tribesmen from jail.