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US embassy employee kidnapped, freed, in Venezuela: police
[CARACAS] An employee of the US embassy in Caracas was released early Wednesday after being kidnapped two days earlier by criminals demanding a ransom, police said.
Police said the employee, a Venezuelan national identified as Kerbin Barazarte, 28 - whom they described as a security guard - had been released unharmed and without payment of a ransom.
They said he was abducted while patrolling in a van near the embassy on Monday night. His captors, who were not identified, had demanded payment of US$30,000 for his release.
A colleague who was with him managed to evade the kidnappers, the police said.
The interior ministry announced on Tuesday that the US embassy van had been recovered but that Barazarte was missing.
Police gave no details of the circumstances of his release.
Former police commissioner Luis Godoy told AFP that the number of kidnappings in Venezuela had increased considerably over the last few years because it was a "fast and effective" means of getting money.
Mr Godoy said it is difficult to determine the number of kidnappings in Venezuela, because there are no official figures, and 60 per cent of victims do not report a crime.
"Last year, there were between 1,200 and 1,300 kidnappings across the country, according to non-governmental organisations," he said.