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MISSIONARIES’ ABDUCTION ANGERS GUATEMALANS

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Guatemalans are angry about last week's kidnapping of an American LDS missionary and her Panamanian companion, a journalist in Guatamala City says.

Leonel Guitierez, a reporter for Siglo Veintiuno newspaper, told the Deseret News that many citizens in the Central American country are embarrassed by the abduction - and demanding justice."The relationship between our two countries has not always been good, and this incident does not help," he said. "The missionaries are fine, but their kidnapping has received a lot of attention, and people from the city are mad. They want something done."

Last Monday, Robin Laura Reed of Lodi, Calif., and Rosalba Pena Cubillas of Panama City, Panama, were forced into a car at gunpoint about 11:30 a.m. while walking down the street in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital.

The suspected captor, 23-year-old Estuardo Salvador Giron Orellana, Guatemala City, is accused of contacting the local mission office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and demanding 300,000 quetzales (about $53,000) for their release.

Arrangements were made for the ransom to be delivered to Orellana outside the entrance of the city's San Carlos University, said Guitierez. Officials of the church's Guatemala Guatemala City Central Mission also reported the kidnapping to the Guatemala City police.

With several undercover officers watching, mission President Denis Morrill entered the university grounds about 4:30 p.m. carrying a nylon bag, according to Guatemala City police public affairs director Gonzolo Francisco Figueroa.

"When the exchange took place, the suspect was arrested without incident by agents from the national police dressed in civilian clothes," said Figueroa.

He disputed earlier media reports that officers had impersonated LDS missionaries during the apprehension.

The kidnapper allegedly confessed to the crime and led authorities to the two missionaries, who were unharmed.

Figueroa praised everyone who participated in the operation, adding that the police department had received a letter of thanks from the U.S. Embassy for its prompt actions.

He would not comment on possible punishment facing Orellana. "Things are in the hands of the Guatemalan court system now," he said. A trial is expected in about a month.

Kidnapping for ransom is a growing problem in Guatemala. Abductors usually target wealthy Guatemalans, but in April a 7-year-old American schoolgirl was kidnapped and released a few days later.