TEHRAN — Iranian officials denied on Sunday reports that its security forces seized seven US troops near the Islamic republic’s border with Pakistan, Tehran-based Al-Alam television and Press TV reported.
“No American troops have been arrested. We deny it,” Ali Mohammad Azad, the governor general of Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province, told the Arabic language Al-Alam network.
The channel said a source with the provincial border patrol services had also denied the arrest reported earlier by hardline news website Javanonline.ir, which is close to the elite Revolutionary Guards.
Iran’s English-language Press TV said the guards rejected the reports that US troops have been arrested as “unfounded” as Javanonline also denied its report as “incorrect” and “apologized” to its readers.
In the United States, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told AFP: “We are aware of the story and are looking into it, but have no information that would confirm it to be true.”
“It has been heard that seven US forces along with two Iranians who intended to enter Iranian territory at the Kuhak border area near Saravan were identified and arrested by border patrols,” Javanonline had said earlier Sunday.
The town of Saravan is located near the border with Pakistan in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province.
The province, which also lies on a major narcotics route from Afghanistan and Pakistan, has been the scene of a deadly insurgency by the Sunni militant group Jundallah, whose leader was executed this year.
Iranian officials have repeatedly accused the US forces in neighboring Afghanistan of backing militants and fueling unrest in its restive border area.
In March 2007 Revolutionary Guards seized 15 members of the British navy personnel and held them for 13 days over allegedly trespassing into Iranian waters in the Gulf.