AFP: Iran said on Sunday it has no new information about the fate of a Japanese student who was kidnapped last week by bandits in the restive southeast of the country. TEHRAN (AFP) Iran said on Sunday it has no new information about the fate of a Japanese student who was kidnapped last week by bandits in the restive southeast of the country.
“We are without new information about the Japanese student who was abducted,” said Iran’s overall police chief Esmaeel Ahmadi Moghaddam, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.
“According to what we know he has not been taken abroad and the objective (of the kidnappers) is to exchange him for one of their imprisoned companions,” he added.
Satoshi Nakamura, 23, a sociology student at Yokohama National University, was abducted on Monday after leaving his hotel in the town of Bam by Esmaeel Shahbakhsh, a bandit who wants him exchanged for his detained son.
The bandit is believed to be the same man whose gang abducted two Belgian tourists in the same region in August. The two were later freed.
Bam is home to a renowned ancient mud-built citadel which was one of Iran’s main tourist draws until it was destroyed in the 2003 earthquake that killed 31,000 people.
However reconstruction efforts are continuing and a trickle of foreign tourists are still visiting the area, despite warnings from governments about the risks of travel in the region.
Officials have previously said the kidnappers moved the Japanese citizen from Bam, in Kerman province, to the neighbouring province of Sistan-Baluchestan, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Sistan-Baluchestan has been the scene of a string of kidnappings of Iranians and foreigners in recent years, blamed both on bandits and the shadowy outlawed Sunni militant group Jundallah.
On Sunday evening the semi-official Fars news agency quoted a leading security official in Kerman province, Abolghassem Nasrollahi, as denying reports that Nakamura had been freed.
It added that a delegation from Japan was in the region as security forces continue to hunt for the student’s abductors.