TEHRAN, Aug 1 - Iran said on Saturday it had arrested three American tourists near the border with Iraq, the country’s al-Alam television station reported.

A source told the Arabic language state television station that the three had been arrested after entering Iran.

A senior Kurdish security official said earlier on Saturday that three tourists, believed to be American, who disappeared close to northern Iraq’s border with Iran, had entered Iranian territory and been arrested.

The tourists had arrived in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya, 260 km northeast of Baghdad, from Arbil, the capital of Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdish region, on Wednesday.

”The Kurdish security authorities are certain that American tourists entered Iran and were arrested there,” Qadr Hamajan, a senior security official in Sulaimaniya, told Reuters.

On Thursday, three out of four of the group went on to the Ahmed Awa tourist resort, known for its waterfalls, east of Sulaimaniya near the Iranian border. The fourth member of the group was ill and remained in Sulaimaniya.

One of the group was believed to be an Arabic speaker, and a police colonel said on Friday the group had no bodyguards and no interpreter and were last seen at about 11pm on Thursday at the resort.

There is no clear border marker between Iran and Iraq at Ahmed Awa.

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