MAPUTO– Mozambican police say they have rescued an Indian businessman who had been kidnapped in Maputo on Saturday.

The businessman, who was not named), was seized together with a man claiming to be a friend, as they were leaving the casino in the Gloria Hote, on the Maputo coast road, at about 3 a.m. on Saturday by three armed and masked men, who threw the friend out of their car, and drove the businessman to a house in the neighbourhood of Triunfo, where they tied him up and gagged him.

The man told the independent television station STV on Sunday that at around 11 am Saturday the kidnappers demanded a ransom of 10 million meticais (about 167,000 US dollars). “Otherwise they would kill me. I insisted I didn’t have this money, and they began to beat me all over my body, said the victim.

The kidnappers kept him imprisoned until the following morning, when the police arrived and freed him.

The businessman’s supposed friend had informed the police of the kidnapping, but only at 6 a.m. Saturday, three hours after the event. The Maputo director of the Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC), Rainha Gamboa, sad the police were suspicious of the three-hour gap.

After further interrogation, the friend confessed that he had lured the businessman into a trap, and led the police to the house in Triunfo. When they realised they had been discovered, the other members of the gang fled, leaving behind several guns.

Gamboa said the police are now on the trail of the kidnappers. The house in Triunfo, she added, had been rented last Friday, presumably for use as a private prison where the gang would hold its kidnap victims.