January 16, 2016 / 3:25 AM / in 2 years

21 people return after kidnapped by Mexican armed group

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Twenty-one Mexicans who were kidnapped a few days ago by an armed group in the violent state of Guerrero reappeared on Friday, officials said, a rare occurrence in a country where most kidnappings end in mystery or death.

Guerrero, plagued for years by drug-related crime and political corruption, was the same state where 43 trainee teachers disappeared last year and were believed massacred, sparking nationwide protests and plunging Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto into a political crisis.

Of the people kidnapped, 19 were taken last Saturday in the village of Arcelia on their way to a wedding, with two of them killed on the spot, according to media reports.

Two days later, the same group kidnapped five teachers, including the director of a secondary school, in Ajuchitlan, close to Arcelia.

The 17 members of the Arcelia group reappeared on a regional road around 2 a.m. on Friday, their feet battered after spending days walking, said Javier Olea, Guerrero’s attorney general, citing police testimony.

Four of the five kidnapped teachers came back the same afternoon. The school director died of an asthma attack the day he was kidnapped, Olea said.

Olea and Guerrero’s governor, Hector Astudillo, did not provide further details about how the men were freed, though they attributed it to an intense search effort by state police, supported by federal forces.

UNO TV issued a video Friday afternoon that appeared to show the kidnapped men sitting blindfolded on the floor, while voices told them they were going to be freed because their kidnappers were part of a self-defense group, not a criminal gang.

The voices in the video urged the government to fight against the leader of a separate cartel, known as “The Fish.”

Reporting by Anahi Rama, writing by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Stephen Coates

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