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Kidnappers in Paraguay Release Japanese Businessman, 2 Paraguayans

Japanese officials say kidnappers in Paraguay have released a Japanese businessman and two Paraguayans abducted early this month.

Officials in Tokyo reported the release Friday. Gunmen kidnapped Hirokazu Ota and his Japanese secretary Sawako Yamaguchi April 1 on a highway in southeastern Paraguay. Ota is a member of a Christian religious movement known as the Unification Church, founded by South Korean Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

The gunmen also kidnapped two Paraguayans, Rafael Ramos and Nancy Jimenez, who tried to report the incident.

The kidnappers released the secretary April 10.

Japanese media say the gunmen received a large ransom to release the kidnap victims.

Earlier this week, Paraguayan police issued arrest warrants for seven Paraguayan suspects in the case.

On Wednesday, the Reuters news agency said an organization related to the church had asked the government to back off the investigation. The group said its own negotiators had reached an agreement with the kidnappers on a ransom payment.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.