French citizen kidnapped in central Mexico

Mexico City (AFP) –


A French citizen and a Mexican national were kidnapped Sunday while visiting a national park in central Mexico, the French embassy in Mexico City told AFP.

The two men were in separate all-terrain vehicles when they were ambushed. They were accompanied by at least two other people who went to the authorities after being freed by their captors, local media said.

The victims were taken away in their vehicles.

"We are in permanent contact with the Mexican authorities that have mobilized to find our citizen," the embassy said. They identified the Frenchman as Frederic Michel.

Local media said the Mexican as an actor named Alejandro Sandi.

Police and National Guard agents launched a search of the area, according to authorities.

Mexico has seen a significant increase in kidnappings this year, with some 1,700 people taken captive between January and October according to local civil organization Alto al secuestro -- a 38 percent increase on the same period last year.

The park, which is located in the state of Mexico and includes the snow-capped Nevado de Toluca, is popular among visitors from the country's capital some 50 kilometres to the northeast.

The kidnapping of foreigners occurs regularly in Mexico, but the details of each case are not always publicly known.

In June a young American student studying medicine in the western city of Guadalajara was reportedly taken captive. He was released five days later and returned to the US without any information being revealed by authorities.