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Missionaries Kidnapped in Guatemala

June 29, 1998

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) _ Heavily armed gunmen on Monday kidnapped 13 foreign missionaries Monday in Guatemala’s northern Peten region and demanded more than dlrs 330,000 in ransom, police officials said.

The whereabouts and conditions of the victims, believed to be Swiss, were unknown.

Police Chief Felix Flores Diaz of Flores, Peten, said by telephone the missionaries from a group calling itself Nueva Vida, or New Life, were taken hostage by eight unidentified men at a ranch near the town of Sayaxche, about 150 miles north of here.

In Guatemala City, National Police Chief Angel Conte Cojulun said the missionaries were from Switzerland, but the Swiss Embassy could not immediately confirm their nationality.

Conte said authorities learned of the kidnapping after one hostage was released to get the word out. He said the kidnappers had demanded 2 million quetzales, or the equivalent of about dlrs 334,000, for the safe release of the others.

Information about the kidnapping remained sketchy Monday afternoon, and police officers were sent to the region to investigate, Conte said.

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