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Kidnapped Tourists Alive, Iranians Say

Evidence discovered by Iranian forces suggests the three European cyclists kidnapped in the rugged eastern border area of Iran on Dec. 2 are alive, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi. The two Germans and an Irishman were seized near the provincial capital Zahedan, leading to a widespread search by Iranian forces of the eastern border province of Sistan-Baluchestan. Asefi reiterated Iran's view that the three were snatched by bandits or drug-runners, but said fresh clues suggested they had come to no harm. "Based on early information, it seems they are unharmed," Asefi told reporters. Iran has said it will not pay the €5 million ($6.1 million) ransom demanded by a caller. It has encouraged Ireland and Germany to take the same tough line.