Iran said on Saturday that kidnappers who had taken nine Iranian
border guards as hostage in the eastern parts of the country were
linked to the Taliban and supported by the US, the official IRNA
news agency reported.
"The US, which cannot directly encounter Iran, uses such groups
to carry out such acts against the country," Interior Minister
Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi was quoted as saying.
Pour-Mohammadi said Iran had launched a serious investigation
into the kidnapping, expressing hope that the kidnapped soldiers
could soon return to the country with the least harm.
Revealing that the kidnappers were under influence of the
Taliban, the minister said they had asked the Iranian government to
pay ransoms and release some jailed members of their group in
exchange for the release of the border guards.
Al-Arabiya, a Dubai-based satellite TV channel, broadcast a
videotape on Wednesday that nine Iranian soldiers had been held
hostage on the eastern border of the country by an extremist
Islamic militant group called "Jundallah" which is active in
The kidnappers warned that the soldiers would be killed if their
demands were not met.
Iranian Deputy Interior Minister Ali Janati said on Thursday
that the Iranian government would "by no means be blackmailed by
the captors," vowing to exploit "all legal and diplomatic means to
make the nine kidnapped border guards return home safely."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi also termed the
kidnapping as a most inhuman act, saying that the foreign ministry
had held talks with Pakistani officials to "have the soldiers
released soonest and without harm."
(Xinhua News Agency January 9, 2006)