Armed men in Venezuela have kidnapped a Costa Rican diplomat and are holding him for ransom in the latest such incident in the South American country, officials say.
Diplomats in Venezuela have been targeted in several attacks in recent months, underlining rampant insecurity that mostly affects Venezuelans and which voters say is their biggest concern as President Hugo Chavez campaigns for a new six-year term in the October 7 election.
Guillermo Cholele, a trade attache at the Costa Rican Embassy in Caracas, was seized on Sunday night as he returned to his home in La Urbina, a middle-class neighborhood in the eastern part of the capital.
Private TV station Globovision said that, in connection with the kidnapping, security officials were searching floor-by-floor through two half-finished city skyscrapers late on Monday that have been occupied by poor families for several years.
Venezuelan media said the kidnappers had jumped from a green Ford Explorer and forced Cholele into their vehicle while one of them stole his gray Mini Cooper, which had diplomatic plates.