Belgian man kidnapped in Iran released- IRNA

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TEHRAN, Sep 14 (Reuters) A Belgian man kidnapped by bandits in southeast Iran was released today, the official IRNA news agency reported.

''By the efforts of the security forces, the man was released and returned to Iran from Pakistan,'' IRNA quoted an unnamed Interior Ministry official as saying.

In Brussels, a Belgian foreign ministry spokesman confirmed that he had been freed but gave no further details.

Stefaan Boeve had been kidnapped last month with a Belgian woman, who was released after a few days by their captors.

The two tourists were travelling by car in an area between the historic city of Bam and Iran's border with Afghanistan and Pakistan when they were seized, Iranian news reports said at the time.

The two Belgians were kidnapped by a group led by a man named Ismael Shahbakhsh, who had demanded his jailed brother be freed in return for their release.

IRNA did not say whether Shahbakhsh's demand was met.

Iran's military forces and well-armed drug smugglers often clash in southeastern Iran. Tourists visiting the area are advised not to travel at night.

European and other tourists have been abducted in the region in the past and some have been held for weeks.

REUTERS SBC PM1735

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