European hostages released

30 December 2003
A group of three European tourists - two Germans and an Irishman - being held hostage in Iran were released on 27 and 28 December, Iran's Interior Ministry said. The three men, who had been kidnapped while cycling on the southeastern Sistani-Baluchestan road, near the Pakistani border, were in good health, Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Kharrazi said. Tehran announced on 9 December that it was 'seriously' working towards securing the release of the three tourists, who had disappeared a day earlier. The kidnappers had set a ransom of Eur 5 million ($6.1 million) has been set for their release.

After announcing the mens' release, Iranian officials said that the captors had been Islamist militants. 'The hostage-takers claimed to be linked to Al-Qaeda,' Intelligence Minister Ali Yunessi said in a statement. 'According to the declarations of the hostages, the hostage-takers took their orders from abroad.' (MEED 9:12:03)

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