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Iranian police free hostages seized by militants, media report

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Fars News Agency: Six hostages seized in southern Iran have been freed
  • A police official tells Fars that one hostage and at least one gunman were killed
  • Provincial police worked with forces from the Revolutionary Guard to mount operation

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Several hostages seized by militants in Iran have been freed after two days of fighting, Iranian media reported Saturday.

The kidnapping and confrontations that freed the hostages took place in Iran's restive southeastern province of Sistan and Balouchestan, Gholam Ali Nekou'ee, the provincial police chief, told the semi-official Fars News Agency.

Nekou'ee told Fars that his department worked with forces from the Qods Headquarters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard to seal the area and ambush the hostage-takers.

The hostage situation began Thursday when armed men stopped a bus traveling from Chabahar to Zahedan and seized five soldiers and a bank employee, according to Fars.

Nekou'ee told Fars that one of the hostages and one of the gunman were killed in the rescue operation, and two more hostages were wounded. Other media reports indicate that three of the gunmen were killed.

Sunni militant group Jundollah claimed responsibility for the kidnapping on its website, Fars reported. However, an official with the provincial governor's office rejected that claim Friday, as well as Jundollah's claim that some of the kidnapped soldiers were top air force officers.