Two Chinese workers were kidnapped for ransom in Cairo on Thursday, an embassy official said, in a sign of growing insecurity in the Egyptian capital a year after the ouster of veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.
"Two Chinese workers were hijacked by gunmen this morning in Cairo, they want money," an embassy official told AFP.
"The two work at a stone materials company, which mainly focuses on producing marble," the official added.
An Egyptian security source said it was the first kidnapping of foreigners for ransom in Cairo that he could remember.
China's state Xinhua news agency quoted the deputy head of the Chinese People Association in Egypt, Chen Jiannan, as saying that the kidnappers were demanding a ransom of 500,000 Egyptian pounds ($83,000).
The pair were leaving for work from their residence in the Maadi neighbourhood of south Cairo when they were seized, Chen added.
The kidnapping came barely a month after 25 workers in a military-owned cement factory in the Sinai peninsula were kidnapped by Egyptian Bedouin demanding the release of Islamist relatives.
They were freed unharmed on February 1 after being held for 24 hours.
Crime has increased markedly since the ouster of Mubarak in February last year. The police were widely discredited by their use of force in his efforts to resist nationwide protests against his three-decade rule.