Iranian captors release tourists

Three foreign tourists who were kidnapped in south-eastern Iran earlier this month have been released, according to a government minister.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi says the men are free

    Iraninan Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi told state television that the three "have been freed and are in good health."

    The three tourists who were on a cycle hoilday in the region were kidnapped on 2 December. Iran said that the two

    Germans and one Irishman were snatched by "bandits or drug-runners."

    The Irish tourist has been named as Aidan James Leahy, the The German Foreign Ministry has declined to reveal the names of the two Germans who were seized.

    Easy targets

    Most European countries advise their citizens that travel to Iran is safe, but urge caution to be taken in the border
    areas. The eastern borders are a key transit route for drug traffickers, carrying opium and heroin from Afghanistan.
    The Islamic Republic said it would not pay the five million euros ($6.1 million) ransom demanded by a kidnappers.
    It encouraged Ireland and Germany to take the same tough line.

    German tourists holidaying in remote locations have been involved in several kidnappings in recent years, including
    Algeria, Egypt and Colombia.

    Rumours that Germany paid ransoms for the hostages' release led to some concern that German tourists may be seen as lucrative targets by potential kidnappers.



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