Page last updated at 04:16 GMT, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 05:16 UK

Kidnapped Koreans freed in Mexico

Lee Jeong-Gwan, South Korea's director general for consular affairs, announces the release
The release was announced in Seoul

Five South Koreans kidnapped for ransom in Mexico have been released, the South Korean foreign ministry says.

The group were seized in Reynosa, across the US border from Texas, eight days ago, and $30,000 demanded.

The five work in the used car trade and were visiting the area on business, local media reports.

Mexico police are due to hand over the five to South Korean consular officials. It is unknown whether any ransom was paid.

"Police found the five Koreans held in a hotel in Reynosa. It seems the people smugglers offered to take them across to the United States but then kidnapped them for a much bigger ransom," a spokesman for the Tamaulipas state attorney general's office said.

He said the hostages, four men and one woman, were rescued after intelligence work and tip-offs in northern Mexico and Mexico City.

Mexico has one of the highest rates of kidnappings for ransom in the world.

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