Egypt's foreign minister says a group of foreign tourists and their Egyptian guides who were kidnapped in the country's south have been released.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Monday that the 11 Europeans and eight Egyptians are safe. He was speaking on the sidelines of a United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

Egyptian officials said earlier that bandits kidnapped the tour group on Friday while it was on a desert safari. The hostage takers demanded millions of dollars in ransom, but it is not clear if any money was handed over.

The group includes tourists from Germany, Italy and Romania.

Kidnapping of foreigners is rare in Egypt, although militants have killed many people in bombings and shootings at tourist sites.

Authorities said the tour group was abducted near Egypt's borders with Libya and Sudan.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.