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Officials: Mexico's ambassador to Venezuela kidnapped, freed

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 3:32 PM EST, Mon January 30, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Mexico's foreign ministry asks for an "exhaustive investigation" of the abduction
  • Authorities say armed men kidnapped the ambassador after a reception
  • Venezuela's interior ministry says the ambassador and his wife were not harmed
  • Officials say a Venezuelan police operation helped free them

Caracas, Venezuela (CNN) -- Mexico's ambassador to Venezuela and his wife were freed early Monday after armed men kidnapped them and held them hostage for hours, officials said.

Ambassador Carlos Pujalte and his wife were unharmed, Venezuela's interior ministry said in a statement. Venezuelan police helped free them four hours after they were captured, authorities said.

Armed men kidnapped the couple around midnight Sunday after they left a reception in Caracas, Venezuelan investigators said in a statement.

Investigators did not indicate whether they had apprehended any suspects or uncovered a motive for the kidnapping.

Mexico's foreign ministry said in a statement Monday that Pujalte and his wife were "in good health" after their release, calling on Venezuelan investigators to conduct an "exhaustive investigation" into the abduction.

Pujalte, 58, became Mexico's ambassador to Venezuela in 2010, Mexico's state-run Notimex news agency said. He also has served as Mexico's ambassador to Costa Rica and its consul general in Toronto, Canada.

As Venezuela's economy has stagnated in recent years, crimes such as kidnapping and murder have risen.

According to the National Institute of Statistics, 16,917 people were kidnapped between July 2008 and July 2010, or about 23 kidnappings a day.

Chile's consul general in Caracas was kidnapped, shot and wounded after leaving a hotel there in November.

Journalist Osmary Hernandez and CNN's Rene Hernandez contributed to this report.

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