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17 January 2006 -- Some 50 family members of the nine Iranian soldiers who were kidnapped last month near the Iran-Pakistan border gathered today in front of Iran's presidential building to call for swift government action to release the hostages.
The semi-official Fars news agency reports today the protesters said the hostage-takers threatened to kill the kidnapped soldiers within three days unless Tehran frees four of their group's members and pays a ransom.
Iran says the kidnappers of the Iranian soldiers last month also abducted three Turkish citizens near the border with Pakistan. Agencies today said the Turks have now been released.
The hostage-takers claim they are members of a Sunni militant group called Jundollah, or Soldiers of God. But Iranian officials say they are drug smugglers with ties to terrorist groups.
(Fars, Radio Farda)