Latin America & Caribbean

Baseball player Wilson Ramos kidnapped in Venezuela

Baseball player Wilson Ramos, who features for the Washington Nationals in the US, has been kidnapped from his family home in the Valencia, Venezuela.

Police have found the vehicle used to kidnap Mr Ramos in nearby Bejuma.

A Venezuelan police Twitter feed said Mr Ramos was alive, but did not clarify details, the Washington Post reported.

He was taken on Wednesday by four armed men in a van, according to Kathe Vilera, spokeswoman for the Tigres de Aragua team.

Mr Ramos, 24, plays as catcher for Tigres de Aragua and also for the Washington Nationals team in the US Major League.

Venezuela is believed to have one of the world's worst rates of kidnapping.

The national director of Venezuela's investigative police force, Jose Humberto Ramirez, told local media police were deploying to rescue him.

The president of the Tigres de Aragua team, Rafael Rodriguez Rendon, visited Mr Ramos's family to express the team's "solidarity" with them. According to local media, he called for "caution and calm" while the authorities investigated the incident.

Lack of security

Sports figures have found themselves the target of violent crime in Venezuela in the past, but this is thought to be the first case targeting a baseball player who plays in the US Major League.

Most kidnappings in Venezuela are carried out to extort a ransom, but there were no immediate reports of any ransom demand.

The Institute for Investigations on Coexistence and Citizen Security (Incosec), a Venezuelan think tank, estimated that last year Venezuela saw 1,179 kidnappings, or about three cases every day.

In a statement on her Twitter account, Ms Vilera added: "Lack of security in this country has no limits and nobody does anything! When will the kidnappings stop?"

The rising rate of violent crime has become a major source of public concern in Venezuela in recent years, with many accusing President Hugo Chavez's government of not doing enough to combat the problem.

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