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Kidnappers release Venezuelan TV reporter after eight days in captivity

Nairobi Pinto, who works for the pro-opposition Globovisión network, was found unharmed

Nairobi Pinto, in a photo from her Facebook page
Nairobi Pinto, in a photo from her Facebook page

A Venezuelan television journalist who was kidnapped by armed men in front of her family in broad daylight was freed early Monday in a small town outside Caracas.

The disappearance of Nairobi Pinto, 27, gripped an entire country, one that is already suffering from one of the worst murder rates in the Western Hemisphere.

She was taken from outside her home on April 6 by three gunmen as she was returning home from the supermarket. The television network chief correspondent had been held for eight days, until she was rescued after her kidnappers left her abandoned in Cúa, Miranda state.

Interior Minister General Miguel Rodríguez Torres said that her release was successful due to the intense public pressure surrounding the case, as well as the 3,000 security officers dispatched to search for the young journalist. The government concentrated its operation in the nearby Valles del Tuy, a green mountainous district outside the capital where the majority of residents are wage-earners who commute to Caracas.

As of Tuesday, no one had been arrested in the case.

A government official said that her release was successful due to the intense public pressure surrounding the case

While the abduction was widely believed to be a typical “express kidnapping” – one where captors hold their hostage for hours until their family pays a small ransom – many suspected that pro-government groups may have been behind it. Pinto is an employee at Globovisón, a television network that supports the opposition. What’s more, she doesn’t come from a wealthy family.

Gabi Arellano, one of the leaders of the anti-government student movement, also raised more suspicions when he said last week that he and Pinto were close – she may have been taken because of that friendship.

The government, however, continued to insist it was a common kidnapping.

In her first appearance before reporters, Pinto said she was “still in shock” and trying “to absorb” everything that had happened to her. She was never able to see her kidnappers or determine where she had been held because she was blindfolded throughout her captivity, she explained.

According to the United Nations, Venezuela has the second-highest homicide rate in the Americas after Honduras. Last year, some 21,000 murders were registered in the country.

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