Iran launches helicopter search for kidnapped Italians:
TEHRAN, June 17 (AFP) - Iran has sent out helicopters to join the search
for three Italians kidnapped four days ago after receiving information
about the kidnappers' hideout, the press reported Thursday.
"We have received some clues regarding the whereabouts of the
kidnappers," said Mohammad Ali Tohidi, governor of the southern city
of Bam where the three Italians were seized on Tuesday.
The government-run newspaper Iran reported that dozens of security
forces were searching the desert region in the province of Kerman using
helicopters and special desert vehicles.
An interior ministry official said Wednesday there were indications
that "bandits and drug traffickers" were involved in the abduction,
adding that a public announcement would be made soon.
The three Italians -- engineers Lorenzo Termite and Riccardo Pasinato
and technician Giuseppe Zizza -- were kidnapped during a visit Sunday to
the ancient citadel in Bam.
"The Italian group was picnicking in a park across from the site
when they were approached by a car with several men in civilian clothes,"
Tohidi told Iran newspaper.
"The civilians were armed and began shooting in the air before
asking three of the Italians to get into their car ... but there was no
violence," he said, adding that it was the first case of kidnapping
of foreign nationals in the region.
The Italians work for the Danieli steel works in the central Iranian
city of Yazd.
The kidnappings occurred only a few days after an an extensive army-led
operation against drug traffickers and bandits in the region.
The desert region around Bam is regarded as dangerous territory because
of the high incidence of drug-trafficking from Pakistan and Afghanistan.