MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Sixteen employees of Mexico’s Ministry of State Security were released on Friday after they were kidnapped earlier this week in the southern state of Chiapas after a three-day search, authorities said.
“They are all fine,” a ministry spokesman said.
The employees, all men, were abducted by an armed group on Tuesday on a highway near the state capital, Tuxtla Gutierrez, after leaving work, authorities said.
More than 1,000 federal and state agents have joined the search, and two people were arrested earlier this week.
Local media showed pictures of families gathered in the ministry’s offices, bursting into tears as they were reunited with the kidnapped victims. A weeping woman appeared, shouting, “Thank you, Lord!”
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Chiapas State Department of Security told Reuters that the employees are not police officers but department employees, adding, “Nothing like this has ever happened.”
The kidnapped employees were caught on video shortly after they went missing, their eyes lying on the ground, standing together, as one of them gave a message that they would be released in exchange for resignations from senior officials in the ministry.
The ministry confirmed that those who appeared in the video were the prisoners.
The terms of their release remain unclear.
(Reporting by Lisbeth Diaz; Writing by Isabelle Woodford; Editing by Sarah Moreland and Leslie Adler)
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