The 11 European tourists and eight Egyptian guides who were seized in Egypt 10 days ago are now in Chad following a shootout between the Sudanese military and kidnappers on Sudan's border with Chad, according to Al-Jazeera news Sunday, dpa reported.
A Sudanese military spokesman said six of the kidnappers were slain in the clash and two were arrested. One Sudanese soldier was wounded.
The leader of the kidnappers, described as Chadian, was first reported killed but was later described as captured. A second captured abductor was Sudanese.
According to the Sudanese spokesman, during the melee the hostages were removed from the scene by 35 armed men in vehicles who suddenly crossed the border from Chad.
The 35 men who took the hostages from the scene of the firefight were believed to be in Tabeh al-Shagara, 30 kilometres inside Chad's border with Sudan, Sudanese military spokesman Othman Mohamed al- Aghbash said. None of the hostages were believed to be among the fatalities from the skirmish.
Reports earlier Sunday quoting the Sudanese Foreign Ministry had said that Sudanese security forces had located the route of the kidnapped group and that they might be released within hours.
The 19 hostages include five Germans, five Italians, one Romanian and eight Egyptians. The desert safari group were taken captive by a gang of masked men on September 19 in the Gilf Kebir region of Egypt's Western Desert.
The German Foreign Ministry would not confirm the shooting in Sudan on Sunday evening, saying only that a crisis committee is working intensively on a solution.
According to Egyptian reports the kidnappers had demanded a ransom of 8.8 million dollars.
The nationality of the kidnappers is still unknown with reports saying they could be from Chad or may be Darfur rebels.