TEHRAN, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- An Iranian official on
Tuesday confirmed three U.S. nationals have been detained by Iranian forces near
the border with Iraq, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
The three people "were arrested on Malakh-Khor border
near the town of Marivan," which borders Iraq's Kurdish area, said Iraj
Hassanzadeh, deputy governor of Iran's Kurdistan province.
The three "middle-aged" Americans were traveling on
Syrian and Iraqi visas, Hassanzadeh said, noting that all those who try to
"illegally" enter Iran will be arrested.
However, U.S. media have said the three people --
Shane Bauer, Sara Shourd and Joshua Fattal -- are all in their mid-20s.
Iran's Arabic-language satellite channel Al-Alam
quoted Hassanzadeh as saying that the three Americans "were detained four days
ago" and "are being questioned."
An Iraqi Kurdish security official said on Saturday
in a statement that the three Americans were "tourists who visited Ahmed Awa
area at the town of Halabja in the (Iraqi) province of Sulaimaniyah."
They were arrested by Iranian forces "after they
crossed the border with Kurdistan region to Iran due to their little knowledge
about the area," the statement said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday
urged Iran to provide information about the three missing Americans.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, Clinton asked
Iran to give whereabouts of the three Americans and "return them as quickly as
The United States has earlier asked Switzerland,
which represents American interests in Iran, to confirm reports that the
detention of three American nationals at the Iran-Iraq border region.