Two British expatriates employed by Exxon-Mobil  were released on Thursday afternoon after having been held for a few hours by unidentified gunmen, according to Exxon-Mobil external affairs manager Nihad Shelbaya.
The Britons – 51-year-old Andy Wills and wife Caroline, 48 – were kidnapped early Thursday in the city of Ras Sidr in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula , security sources said.
The masked assailants, whose identity remains unknown, had abducted the couple  as they stood outside a bank where they had changed money.
The two were then taken to a mountainous area where they were held briefly, said South Sinai security official Magdi Moussa.
The kidnappers had initially demanded the release of relatives who, they said, had been arrested by authorities in the northern city of Marsa Matrouh while smuggling  weapons into Egypt from Libya.
"We received a phone call from the kidnappers who demanded the release of their cousins and nothing else," a Ras Sidr security source told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website.
The reason for the couple's speedy release remains unknown at this point.