Central & South Asia
Iran 'frees' diplomat in Pakistan
Iranian agents claim to have rescued kidnapped diplomat in cross-border operation.
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2010 03:50 GMT
The interior minister said diplomatic efforts had failed to secure the diplomat's release [AFP]

Iran says its agents have in a cross-border operation freed a diplomat kidnapped in Pakistan last November.

"The Iranian intelligence agents, in a successful operation, brought home the Iranian diplomat who was abducted in Peshawar, Pakistan," Heydar Moslehi, the Iranian intelligence minister, told reporters on Tuesday.

Gunmen had snatched Heshmatollah Attarzadeh on November 13, 2008 in Peshawar, northwest Pakistan. He was on his way to work in the commercial service of Iran's consulate in the city when his car was sprayed with bullets and his local guard killed.

Ramin Mehmanparast, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, said "the location where Attarzadeh was held was identified by Iranian intelligence agents, and through a series of complex operations he was brought home".

Mehmanparast was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying that diplomatic efforts by Tehran with Islamabad had failed to produce results.

"Finally, the [Iranian] intelligence agents themselves freed our diplomat," he was quoted as saying. "The release of the diplomat shows the strength of Iran's security [forces]."

Iranian accusation

Moslehi alleged that Attarzadeh's abductors were supported by Israeli and US intelligence services.

"Mossad and American intelligence services were supporting the group who abducted the Iranian diplomat," he said. "Mossad and American intelligence are stunned by this rescue operation."

The envoy's release comes after Iranian agents in February captured Abdolmalek Rigi, Tehran's most wanted Sunni fighter, who according to officials in Iran lived in Pakistan from where he launched attacks on the Islamic Republic.

Rigi, the head of the rebel Jundallah (Soldiers of God) group, was seized after Iranian warplanes reportedly forced a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan to land in Iran.

Iran touted his arrest as a major success of its intelligence agencies and a blow to the United States and Britain.

Soon after his arrest, Iranian state television aired a confession by Rigi in which he claimed that he was supported by the United States and had been promised a base along the border with Afghanistan near Iran.

His group says it is fighting for the rights of Sunni Baluchis of the province in mostly Shia Iran.

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