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2 Houstonians kidnapped in Egypt

Two men kidnapped in Egypt on Wednesday are from Houston.
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Two men kidnapped in Egypt on Wednesday are from Houston.

Brandon Kurtz, 31, and Jon Szaflarski, 31, both work for Houston-based Schlumberger.

The men were on vacation in Egypt, a country that has been in political unrest for a long time. They had been SCUBA diving in Dahab, Egypt, and were headed to Israel Wednesday, when their driver came to a sudden stop.

By telephone, Szaflarski said protesters set tires on fire, blocking their path.

Armed men took over their van, Szaflarski said.

Kurtz sent a co-worker a text message to report that the two had been kidnapped. He asked the co-worker to notify their families.

The men were locked inside a room most of the night.

"All of the windows had bars on them," Szaflarski said. "They nailed the door shut. Then they were outside shooting their assault rifles the whole night and all the way through the morning."

The men were hostage and their captors demanded that the Egyptian police release a relative who had been arrested on drug charges earlier in the week.

"They were all very loud and aggressive and speaking in Arabic," Szaflarski said. "We had no idea, no clue what their intentions were."

The men were held for 24 hours before they were finally released into the custody of the Egyptian military. The kidnappers' relative was freed.

"They took him out of the jail and they traded him for us," Szaflarski said. "The most scary part about it was the uncertainty. We didn't know if we were going to be killed at any point in time."

Szaflarski said the kidnappers treated them well. They were fed and allowed to use the restroom when they needed it.

The pair thinks they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The two plan to go to Tel Aviv and Paris before returning to Houston.