Iran Confirms Arrest of American Tourists
Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd of California, and Joshua Fattal of Pennsylvania were hiking in a mountainous Kurdish region near Sulaimaniyah when they accidently wandered over the ill defined border.
Kurdish tourist police had allegedly warned them that the Iranian border was very close.
Four Americans -- two of them students in Syria -- traveled from Syria to Turkey and then into Kurdistan in northern Iraq, arriving at Irbil on Tuesday.
Three of the group left early Friday in a taxi for Ahmed Awa near Iraq's border with Iran, planning to hike in the mountains there, Ahmed said. The fourth member of the group was ill and stayed behind.
The area where the three disappeared is a popular hiking destination known for a picturesque waterfall and rocky scenery as well as a thick growth of fruit and nut trees. The official said camping equipment and two backpacks apparently belonging to the Americans were found in the area and it seemed they were hiking above the waterfall when they accidentally crossed the border.
The head of the Iranian Parliament's foreign policy committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, elaborated on the issue.
"This case is currently on its natural course," Boroujerdi said without giving any additional information on the status of the detainees.
The Swiss Embassy in Tehran is working to learn more about the Americans' fate through its contacts with the Iranian Foreign Ministry, spokeswoman Nadine Olivieri said.