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Sixteen police employees kidnapped in Mexico are freed

MEXICO (AFP) – Sixteen police employees who had been kidnapped in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas have been freed after three days of captivity, Governor Rutilio Escandon said on Friday.

Confrontations between criminals and law enforcement have multiplied recently in the area, which is a transit zone for migrants and drug trafficking.

“I want to tell the people of Chiapas and Mexico that the 16 kidnapped colleagues… have been released this afternoon,” the governor said on Twitter.

Local television stations aired live footage of the abductees reuniting with their families.

The relatives had been staging a sit-in at the Chiapas Security Secretariat, where those abducted were employed, demanding the safe release of their loved ones.

As the newly freed police workers approached on foot, the surprised family members raced to embrace them amid screams and tears, news footage from Foro TV and Milenio showed.

PHOTO: ENVATO

“My brother is in the ambulance right now. They are working on keeping his vital signs stable, as his blood pressure was high,” Benicia Rincon, a sister of one of the hostages, told a local network. Escandon thanked Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the army, the navy, the national guard and others for their help in rescuing the kidnap victims.

During an event in Mexico state, Lopez Obrador described the release as “very good news” and sent “a hug to the relatives”.

The state governor did not offer details about how the workers had been freed.

More than 1,000 members of state and federal security forces were involved in the search for the workers, who are administrative employees of the police force.

They had been kidnapped on Tuesday while traveling by bus on a stretch of highway that connects the town of Ocozocoautla and the state capital Tuxtla Gutierrez.

At the time, there were 17 women on board the bus, but they were all let go.

Local media released a video purportedly showing the captive workers, one of whom says that the abductors are demanding the resignation or dismissal of three state security officials accused of working in secret with another armed group.

Lopez Obrador on Thursday proposed that an inquiry be launched into the actions of those three officials, in exchange for the hostages’ release.

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