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Taiwan diplomat narrowly escapes being taken hostage (updated)

2010/06/01 16:05:42

Taipei, June 1 (CNA) An official with Taiwan's embassy inGuatemala was taken hostage at gunpoint Monday in the country'scapital but managed to escape after drawing out the situation andgetting help from local police, according to the Ministry of ForeignAffairs (MOFA).

Lin Shyo-shiun, deputy director of Taiwan's Technical LiaisonOffice in Guatemala, was abducted by a group of armed youths while hewas driving to work.

But he was later freed after police chased the kidnappers to anarea just outside Guatemala City, according to an AFP report.

MOFA spokesman James Chang said at a press briefing that theincident was a random kidnapping case and that Lin was not hurt andappeared to be in good condition.

An spokesman from Taiwan's embassy in Guatemala, speaking oncondition of anonymity, told the Central News Agency by phone thatLin helped his cause by not upsetting the armed men.

According to the spokesman and details released by the Ministryof Foreign Affairs, the two kidnappers sat in the front seat andordered Lin to sit in the back, setting off the car's alarm.

Fearing that the noise would irritate the gunmen and make themtrigger-happy, Lin offered to move behind the wheel so he couldsilence the alarm.

Just as the men were changing positions in the vehicle, a policecar passed by. The officers were alerted by the strange movement inLin's car and ordered it to pull over, according to the spokesman,who did not specify if there was a chase as reported.

Fearing that if the police discovered they had interrupted akidnapping, a gunfight would be unavoidable, Lin told the police thatthe two men were his friends, according to the spokesman.

The police remained suspicious, however, and asked the three mento step out of the car.

The police searched them and found that all was clear -- thegunmen having left their guns in the car -- but Lin whispered to thepolice that he was kidnapped, leading them to arrest the kidnappersand allow him to escape.

Sun Ta-cheng, Taiwan's ambassador to Guatemala, expressedadmiration for Lin's poise in dealing with the situation, which couldhave ended up in disaster, the embassy spokesman said.

Many of the same details were confirmed by Pan Sheng-tsai, thetechnical mission chief of Taiwan's embassy in the Central Americancountry.

According to the AFP report, the two men arrested were JorgeIsaac Garcia, 27, and Nestor Juarez Perez, 24, and two pistols wereconfiscated at the scene.

(By Emmanuelle Tzeng, Deborah Kuo and Chris Wang)