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Iranians Capture GIs & Civilians

iran and u.s. flags, against ocean backdrop, for story about americans captured at sea by iranians (6-2-03)
AP / CBS
Four U.S. soldiers and five civilians in two boats were taken captive by Iranians, blindfolded and interrogated before being released, U.S. Central Command said Monday. Two of the civilians are still being held.

Four soldiers from the Army's 1092nd Engineer Company, a civilian Army contractor, two civilian captains and two boat drivers were sailing up the Shatt al Arab waterway in the al Faw peninsula Sunday to pick up Iraqi South Oil Co. personnel when they were taken by force by Iranians, a spokesman, Cmdr. Dan Gage, said from Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla.

So far nothing has been said about the nationalities of the civilians involved in the incident.

The boats were to take the oil company personnel to the Mini al Bakr platform to conduct a survey of the oil platform when the Iranians blindfolded them and took them to a building where they were interrogated throughout Sunday night.

On Monday, the Iranians took the group back to their boats and released all of them except the two drivers, Gage said.

A Chinook helicopter located them near the waterway Monday, according to Gage. U.S. Navy crew members drove the boats to Kuwait.

Gage said initial medical examinations of the freed soldiers and civilians did not turn up any injuries or other signs of physical abuse.

He says it is possible that the group might have moved into Iranian territorial waters. The Mini al Bakr platform is very close to Iran's declared international water boundaries.