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Monday 28 May 2018

Kidnapped footballer 'triggered rescue after wrestling away captor's gun'

Mexican footballer Alan Pulido, left, stands next to Tamaulipas state governor Egidio Torre Cantu after Pulido was rescued from kidnappers in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico (AP)
Mexican footballer Alan Pulido, left, stands next to Tamaulipas state governor Egidio Torre Cantu after Pulido was rescued from kidnappers in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico (AP)

Kidnapped Mexican football player Alan Pulido was rescued after he was able to dial an emergency phone number and alert authorities to his location, officials said.

About 24 hours after he was snatched, Pulido found himself alone with one of his captors and saw his chance. He wrestled away the man's pistol and his mobile phone and dialled Mexico's emergency number.

Within minutes, he was free.

An official summary report of three calls to an emergency operator obtained by The Associated Press shows that the 25-year-old forward for Olympiakos in the Greek league threatened and beat his captor while on the phone, demanding to be told where they were.

The dramatic account shows that Pulido was the main factor in his own liberation - a contrast with initial official accounts of his rescue by police.

On a first call, with the kidnapper overpowered, Pulido peered out of a window and described the white two-storey house with two cars, grey and red, parked in front.

In the next call, Pulido told the operator that state police had arrived outside. The operator told him to fire the pistol so they would know they were in the right spot, but Pulido said he had no bullets. He said police themselves were starting to shoot and described his shorts and tank top so they wouldn't confuse him with the now-unconscious captor.

Once police arrived, he made a third call to confirm with the operator that they were trustworthy.

Tamaulipas state Attorney General Ismael Quintanilla told a news conference that emergency services had received the call after midnight on Sunday due to "a careless act by his captors".

In a later interview with Imagen Radio, he confirmed that Pulido had forcibly seized the phone from his captor.

"There was an exchange of punches between them," Mr Quintanilla said.

He said Pulido cut his wrist when he broke a window trying to escape.

Pulido was grabbed by four armed people on a road while returning from a party at about 11.30pm on Saturday. His girlfriend, who was not taken, alerted others.

"Everyone began to activate to look for him, especially when we knew who he was, because we knew it was going to make a big ruckus and was going to be affecting us a lot in the press," Mr Quintanilla said.

He said the army, federal and state police participated, including three helicopters.

Pulido's family received the first ransom call around 1.30pm on Sunday and a second one a short time later, Mr Quintanilla said.

The suspect was a 38-year-old from the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, who Mr Quintanilla said was a member of one of the criminal organisations operating in the city. He said three other suspects were identified and a search is under way for them.

Pulido was taken for medical and psychological review after his ordeal and then provided a statement to investigators.

He made a brief appearance before reporters, responding only to a question about how he was: "Very well, thank God."

Mexican Federal Police Commissioner Enrique Galindo said on Radio Formula Monday that authorities believe the kidnappers were motivated solely by the potential financial gain of ransom - which was not paid.

His Greek club expressed relief over his safe escape from kidnappers.

"Alan is safe and sound with his family. We thank everyone for their concern and prayers during the difficult moments he has lived," Olympiakos said on its Twitter page.

Later Pulido thanked everyone for praying for his family through his official Twitter account.

"They helped us a lot in this terrible experience of our lives that we do not desire for anyone."

He also thanked state and federal authorities for their help in his rescue.

Press Association

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