MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Sixteen Mexican state security ministry employees were freed on Friday after being kidnapped earlier this week in the southern state of Chiapas, authorities said, following a three-day search.
“All of them are OK,” a spokesperson for the ministry said.
The employees, all men, were kidnapped Tuesday by an armed group on a highway near the state capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez after leaving work, authorities said.
More than 1,000 federal and state agents joined the search, and two people were detained earlier this week.
Local news outlets showed images of families gathered at the ministry’s offices, breaking into tears as they reunited with the kidnap victims. One woman was shown sobbing, yelling out, “Thank you Lord!”
Political Cartoons on World Leaders
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Chiapas’ security ministry told Reuters that the employees were not police officers but administration workers, adding, “Nothing like this has ever happened.”
The kidnapped employees were recorded in a video shortly after going missing, eyes cast to the ground, standing together, as one gave a message that they would be freed in exchange for resignations from ministry higher-ups.
The ministry confirmed that those in the video were the captives.
The conditions of their release remain unclear.
(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Isabel Woodford; Editing by Sarah Morland and Leslie Adler)
Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.