Tehran: Gunmen attacked a bus and seized five Iranian soldiers in the country`s restive southeast, media reports said on Saturday as Sunni militants claimed responsibility for the raid.
The group ambushed the bus between the towns of Iranshahr and Chabahar in Sistan-Baluchestan province on Thursday, the official IRNA news agency cited a top government official as saying.
They took hostage six passengers including five soldiers and a bank clerk before elite Iranian forces freed two of the troops, Ali Abodllahi, who is a deputy interior minister, said in the report.
"Two soldiers were freed in an operation carried out in the region last night by the Revolutionary Guards," Abodllahi was quoted as saying.
Mehr news agency reported that the raid was claimed by the Sunni rebel group Jundallah, or Soldiers of God.
The group also said it carried out the attack in a statement posted on its website junbish.blogspot.com, adding that it killed a "number of security
forces" during the assault.
Jundallah, whose longtime leader Abdolmalek Rigi was executed in June, threatened to kill the hostages unless its members currently held by Iranian authorities are released.
Abdollahi, however, rejected Jundallah`s claim that it carried out the abduction.
Jundallah says it fights for the interests of the southeastern province`s large ethnic Baluch community, who unlike most Shi’ite Iranians, mainly follow the Sunni branch of Islam.