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Priest Reports Contact With Kidnappers; Threat to US Citizens

January 6, 1996

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) _ The kidnappers who abducted two European tourists at gunpoint earlier this week have threatened to attack an American family if their demands were not met, a priest said Friday.

The Rev. Eduardo Bolanos, a Roman Catholic priest from the northern town of Pital de San Carlos, told Radio Monumental that one of the kidnappers had called him Thursday to make the threat.

In response, the U.S. Embassy issued a bulletin urging Americans in Costa Rica to take precautions.

Germany, Nicaragua, Switzerland and the United States have offered to help Costa Rica find Regula Susana Siegfried of Switzerland and Nicola Fleutchaus of Germany, who were kidnapped Tuesday near the Nicaraguan border.

On Friday, Nicaragua’s Interior Ministry released a statement saying that army patrols had determined the kidnappers had not entered Nicaraguan territory.

The kidnappers have demanded a $1 million ransom and freedom for a group imprisoned for the 1993 seizure of Costa Rica’s supreme court building.

Bolanos quoted the kidnappers as saying they would communicate with authorities soon and name a Red Cross representative to act as a mediator.

At least nine masked men armed with AK-47 assault rifles took over a hotel Tuesday in the northern city of San Juan and kidnapped Ms. Fleutchaus, 24, and Mrs. Siegfried, 53, who owns a travel agency in Costa Rica.

Costa Rican police and Nicaraguan troops were searching along the border zone this week after a vehicle stolen by the kidnappers was found along the river that divides the two countries.

Police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Friday they had arrested two alleged leaders of armed groups for possible links to the case: Minor Masis, chief of the Commando Cobra, and Alvaro Sequeira of the Military Arm of the People Commando.

The two small groups have been accused of kidnappings, killings and other attacks in the past.

Earlier, police said they had arrested three Nicaraguans and a Costa Rican in connection with the case. Their names were not released.

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