Morsi calls on people of Sinai to give up arms after hostages released
Egyptian police and soldiers who were seized in Sinai by kidnappers are seen upon their arrival at Almaza military Airbase in Cairo on May 22 (Khaled Desouki / AFP)
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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 member of the armed forces, four port security officers and two state security officers 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.
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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