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Luxury hotel owner found after dramatic abduction on French Riviera

Valery Hache, AFP | A picture of Grand Hotel owner Jacqueline Veyrac's residence in Cannes.

A 76-year-old luxury hotel owner who was snatched in broad daylight near her French Riviera home on Monday has been found safe and sound, officials said Wednesday.

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Jacqueline Veyrac was found in a car parked in a northwestern district of Nice, bound and with minor injuries, 48 hours after she was kidnapped in a busy part of town, prosecutor Jean-Michel Prêtre told REUTERS.

"She is not seriously injured," said the prosecutor, adding that the elderly woman had been found by passers-by who alerted the police.

Veyrac, whose husband died five years ago, co-owns the five-star Grand Hotel in nearby Cannes with one of her sons, and the pair also run a gourmet restaurant in Nice called La Reserve.

Prêtre said Veyrac was getting into her SUV outside a pharmacy she had just visited on Monday when the abductors grabbed her, covered her head and forced her into a waiting van that sped off.

Pharmacy owner Jacques Valerno told reporters that a postwoman had witnessed the scene and rushed into his shop to report it.

“From what she said, she was grabbed by two men wearing ski masks,” he said. ”We called the police immediately.”

French daily 20 Minutes and BFMTV quoted the family's lawyer Sophie Jonquet as saying the kidnappers contacted one of Veyrac's sons on Monday afternoon.

 Veyrac had already been the victim of a kidnapping attempt three years ago, the motive for which was never discovered.

The seafront Grand Hotel, bought by the Veyrac family in 1963 and refurbished, is close to the Palais des Festivals where the Cannes Film Festival is held each May.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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