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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 January 2006, 20:07 GMT
Turkish tourists set free in Iran
Three Turkish tourists kidnapped in Iran in December while on a paragliding trip have been released, the Iranian government has announced.

The three are now with Iranian security forces and preparations are being made to return them home, it said.

Turkish officials said earlier a drugs gang was demanding 1m euros ($1.2m, 565,000) for each captive.

But Iranian officials said no ransom had been paid and the kidnappers were described as Sunni Muslim rebels.

The rebel group was named as Jundallah, or Soldiers of Allah.

Speaking in the Turkish capital, Ankara, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said the three freed hostages were due to reach Tehran later on Tuesday before returning to Turkey on Wednesday.

Serdar Durna, Yurdaer Etike and Avni Ozan were kidnapped in Sistan-Baluchistan Province on 24 December as they were heading for India and Nepal via Pakistan, the Turkish news agency Anatolia reported.

Mr Gul thanked the Iranian authorities for helping to free the three paragliders.

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