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Six people kidnapped in restive Iran province-police

Top security official believes kidnappers may sell captives on.

September 18, 2010 12:50 by

Six people, five of them soldiers, have been kidnapped in Iran’s restive province of Sistan-Baluchestan, in an area where a Sunni Muslim rebel group operates, police said on Saturday.

The region, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan, is a hotspot for militants of Jundollah, which killed 28 people in a suicide bombing in a mosque there in July.

The province’s top security official, Hadi Marashi, was quoted as saying he did not believe the kidnappers were Jundollah members but that they might sell the captives on to the group.

“We have found where the hostages are being held and we hope that we can free them soon,” Marashi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Mehr news agency.

The men — five soldiers and one bank employee — were seized from a bus they were travelling in in the early hours of Thursday. Marashi denied reports any high-ranking military officials were among those taken.

Iran says Jundollah has links to Sunni Islamist al Qaeda and in the past has accused Pakistan, Britain and the United States of backing Jundollah to create instability in the southeast of predominantly Shi’ite Iran.

All three countries have denied this, and Jundollah — whose leader Abdolmalek Rigi was executed in June — denies having any association with al Qaeda.

(Editing by Matthew Jones)

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