Mexico envoy Carlos Pujalte in Venezuela kidnap drama

Police inspect the Mexican ambassador's car in Caracas Police are searching for the kidnappers

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The Mexican ambassador to Venezuela was briefly kidnapped on Sunday night before being released, diplomats say.

Carlos Pujalte and his wife were seized from their car in a wealthy area of Caracas, before being set free in a slum in the early hours.

Both are said to be well and it is not clear if any ransom was paid.

The incident is the latest high profile kidnapping in Venezuela, where violent crime and insecurity have soared in recent years.

'Kidnap express'

Mexican diplomats said the alarm was raised when Mr Pujalte's car was found abandoned on the outskirts of Caracas.

He and his wife were freed hours later and have been giving statements to police.

Such abductions - known as "express kidnapping" - are common in Venezuela, with the victims usually forced to take money out of their bank accounts before they are freed.

Last November the Chilean consul in Caracas was abducted, beaten and shot in the leg before being released.

Days earlier Venezuelan baseball star Wilson Ramos - who plays in the US Major League - was kidnapped and held for two days before being rescued by police.

Venezuela has some of the highest rates of murder and kidnap in Latin America, with Caracas particularly affected.

Opposition groups have made crime and insecurity a key issue in their campaign for October's presidential election.

Last year President Hugo Chavez created a new paramilitary force, the Citizen's Guard, to help police tackle crime in the most violent neighbourhoods.

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