Source AP ©

Kidnapped Belgian tourist to come back home

A Belgian tourist kidnapped in southeastern Iran last month will return home Sunday.

The Iranian interior ministry earlier announced the release of Stefaan Boeve, 28 - the second of two Belgians kidnapped while traveling through the lawless region in August with his companion Carla Van den Eeckhout, 37.

It said Boeve was returned to Iran from Pakistan thanks to Iranian security authorities.

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht will accompany Boeve on his homeward trip, landing at the country's military airport Melsbroek on Sunday afternoon.

The couple were traveling in a private car from the historic city of Bam to Zahedan when 15 heavily armed bandits kidnapped them and took them to the mountains.

One of the kidnappers wanted to exchange the hostages for his brother, who is imprisoned in Tehran, the Belgian foreign ministry said at the time.

Van den Eeckhout was released almost immediately on "humanitarian grounds, but it took another month to secure Boeve's freedom.

The Iranian government has in the past blamed these kinds of kidnappings on criminals and drug smugglers who inhabit the region known for the historic city of Bam.

Foreign tourists are advised to be cautious while visiting southeastern Iran and since the late 1990s there have been a number of kidnappings of Westerners there.