CAIRO (Reuters) - Gunmen in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula kidnapped two American women on Friday in an apparent attempt to hold them for ransom, security sources said.

Security in the isolated desert region has deteriorated since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising last February. South Sinai's Red Sea coast is a major tourism hub for Egypt.

The two tourists were among a party of five travelling from Saint Catherine's monastery in central Sinai to the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh when a vehicle carrying men armed with machineguns stopped their small bus, the sources said.

(Reporting by Patrick Werr)