Authorities search for 16 kidnapped police employees in Mexico

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A search operation involving hundreds of security personnel was under way in Mexico on Wednesday, a day after gunmen kidnapped 16 police employees, authorities said.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador vowed “no impunity” for the perpetrators of the abduction, which took place on a highway in the southern state of Chiapas.

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An order had been issued “to rescue those kidnapped, alive of course,” he said at his daily news conference.

The abductees worked at a nearby prison and the incident appeared to be connected to a dispute between criminal groups, Lopez Obrador added.

The state security agency updated the number of employees kidnapped to 16, from 14 previously.

More than 1,000 members of the security forces were involved in the search operation, it said.

Relatives gathered outside the local police headquarters, hugging and crying as they waited for news of their loved ones.

“We don’t want anything to happen to our brother. Please, governor, please do something for these people,” said Martha Elena Rincon Castillejos, the sister of one of those kidnapped.

“These are innocent, working people. They have nothing to do with any of this,” said Dina Luz Rincon Castillejos, whose brother was among the missing.

The abduction occurred on a stretch of highway that connects the town of Ocozocoautla and the state capital Tuxtla Gutierrez, some 700 kilometers (435 miles) southwest of Mexico City.

Two suspects were detained in the vicinity of the kidnapping, authorities said.

Local media released a video purportedly showing the captive workers, one of whom says that the abductors are demanding the resignation or dismissal of three state security officials.

Mexico has registered more than 350,000 murders and some 110,000 disappearances -- most attributed to criminal groups -- since the launch of a controversial military anti-drug offensive in 2006.

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