ANKARA: Four Iranian border guards have been freed in Pakistan two months after being seized by Al-Qaeda-linked militants on the countries’ lawless frontier, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Fars quoted Iranian lawmaker Esmail Kosari announcing the news. It did not give any details of when the release took place or what brought it about.
The abduction in early February heightened regional and sectarian tensions. Iran had said the guards were taken into Pakistan and it threatened to send troops over the border to retrieve them.
The kidnapping was claimed by a Sunni Muslim rebel group operating in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province, which borders Pakistan. The movement said it had killed a fifth member of the group of guards in March.
“Four of the five abducted Iranian border guards have been handed over to Iranian Embassy officials in Pakistan,” Fars quoted Kosari as saying.
Iran’s Students News agency ISNA quoted a statement from the rebel group saying “Sunni clerics’ mediation led to the guards’ release … as a sign of our goodwill.”