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Kidnapped Mexican footballer Pulido rescued

Julio Cesar Aguilar Fuentes / AFP (file photo) | Alan Pulido celebrates after scoring for former club Tigres in a match on April 26, 2014.

Mexican security forces have rescued football star Alan Pulido hours after he was kidnapped in his crime-plagued home state of Tamaulipas, authorities said early Monday.


Pulido, a former national team forward who plays for Greek club Olympiakos, was “safe and sound” following his rescue by state and federal forces before midnight on Sunday, the Tamaulipas government said in a statement, without providing details about the operation.

Military and police forces launched a search for Pulido Sunday after his family said the 25-year-old had been snatched by six armed men around dawn in his hometown of Ciudad Victoria, in northeastern Mexico.

Local media reported that Pulido had accompanied his girlfriend to a party in Ciudad Victoria, and that the car they were in was intercepted by a convoy of vans that blocked the road and forced him out.

The young woman was released almost immediately, but said she had no idea where Pulido had been taken.

“It’s confirmed that footballer Alan Pulido disappeared after returning from a party north of the city and he has not been located,” state prosecutor Ismael Quintanilla told reporters Sunday.

“We are not aware [that the kidnappers] have spoken or communicated with the family,” he said.

Tamaulipas is one of Mexico’s most dangerous states, where drug trafficking and kidnappings are rampant.

Certain roads are so dangerous that the federal police sometimes escort travellers in protective convoys.

Pulido played in the Greek Cup final on May 17 – his team lost to AEK, 2-1 – before leaving for Ciudad Victoria.

He signed a four-year contract with Olympiakos last season. He has played in six matches this season, scoring four goals.

Pulido was a member of the Mexican squad at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, though he did not see any playing time during the tournament. He wasn’t called up for the Copa America tournament that starts this coming week.

Tamaulipas is home to the Gulf and Zetas drug cartels, two criminal groups that were once allies but have fought brutal turf wars in recent years.

While they have both been weakened by the captures or killings of top leaders, their members still sow fear in the population.

About 5,000 people are listed as “disappeared” in Tamaulipas, out of the total 26,000 people reported missing in Mexico last year.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)

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