Japan abductee freed in Paraguay

A Japanese businessman and two Paraguayans abducted almost three weeks ago in the South American nation have been freed.

Hirokazu Ota, 62, and his secretary were seized near the eastern town of Caaguazu. A policeman and a woman who witnessed the incident were also taken.

The secretary, Sawako Yamaguchi, was released earlier this month.

The kidnappers, who have not been identified, had been seeking a ransom for the group, reports from Japan say.

It is not clear whether one was paid.

Mr Ota runs a local property management company and is a pastor for the Unification Church led by the Rev Sun Myung Moon.

“Mr Ota himself had called up the company and told them he and the two Paraguayans were all safe,” a spokesman from the Unification Church in Tokyo said.

Diplomats at the Paraguayan mission in Tokyo confirmed this.

The four were taken hostage at gunpoint on 1 April on the main road between the capital, Asuncion, and the trading city of Ciudad del Este, on Paraguay’s so-called Triple Border with Argentina and Brazil.

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Apr. 20, 2007

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This post was last updated: Apr. 20, 2007