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French executive is kidnapped by mistake

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French executive is kidnapped by mistake
File photo of a busy street in the Madagascan capital of Antananarivo. Photo: Bernard Gagnon
16:54 CEST+02:00
Kidnappers have apologized to the wife of a Frenchman they took hostage in Madagascar this week after admitting they got the wrong man. Despite the mistake the hostage takers are still demanding a €244,000 ransom payment.

Kidnappers in Madagascar are demanding €244,000 to free a French hostage, despite admitting they had intended to snatch his colleague, police said Wednesday.

François Raphael, director of construction firm Henri Fraise, was kidnapped from his car by four balaclava-clad men armed with a Kalashnikov and an automatic pistol on Monday evening.

The kidnappers contacted his wife on Tuesday and apologized, saying they had wanted to kidnap the company's chairman who is currently in New York.

But the gang is still seeking a ransom for his release.

"They are now demanding 3.5 million Malagasy francs (€244,000) but no payment has been made yet," said Antananarivo criminal squad commissioner Fidy Andriamandry.

Originally, the men demanded some $395,000 (300,000 euro), but this price was dropped after telephone negotiations with the family.

Raphael, 39, has lived in Madagascar for 10 months. He is married and has three children.

Kidnappings have increased on the Indian Ocean island in recent months, where security has worsened since the ouster of president Marc Ravalomanana in
2009.

This is the first time that a French citizen has been a victim of kidnapping, with Indian nationals and large traders usually targeted.

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