URGENT Police Raid Frees Kidnapped Melodie Nakachian
CADIZ, Spain (AP) _ An elite police group on Friday raided a house in this southern port city and freed the 5-year-old daughter of a Lebanese millionaire kidnapped 11 days ago, a government official said.
She was unharmed, but an abductor was seriously injured with a gunshot wound in the chest, police said. They earlier said the abductor was killed.
Jose Maria Rodriguez Colorado, director of the national police, said the kidnap gang were known criminals but had no ties to the Nakachian family and had been active in France and Spain. He did not elaborate.
At least two people were arrested in the raid that freed Melodie Nakachian, who was born in Las Vegas, said Augustin Valladolid, interior ministry spokesman. Her captives had demanded millions of dollars in ransom money.
Valladolid told Spanish national radio the raid took place about 2 a.m. and there was a brief scuffle between the police and people in the house.
At least one of the girl’s abductors was injured in the raid, he said.
The girl was immediately taken to the children’s hospital of Malaga on Spain’s Costa del Sol, he added.
He did not identify those arrested and did not specify their injuries.
Four hooded men snatched Melodie from a family car Nov. 9 as she was being taken from her home in Estepona to a school in the resort of Marbella.
The kidnappers, who had sent two photographs of the girl and a lock of her hair to her parents, first demanded a ransom of $13 million, but later lowered it to $5 million, then to $4 million.
After the report of the girl’s release, the radio said its correspondent in Estepona had seen the child’s father, contractor Raymond Nakachian, enter the family home in Estepona with his daughter under heavy police security.
The kidnapping drew attention to the seedy side of the Costa del Sol, where jet-setters, foreign drug smugglers and Arab princes live in secluded villas and millions of European tourists come each year for the sun and beaches.
Valladolid told the radio that police had been searching with helicopters and patrol units in the southern region within a few days of the abduction.
He said they had suspicions about several hideout locations and finally moved because they feared the kidnappers might hurt the girl and there had been no agreement to pay a ransom.
The Nakacian family moved to the Costa del Sol a year ago from Paris.
Before that, Nakachian, 55, studied engineering, construction and business in England. A Lebanese source in Paris says Nakachian opened a nightclub in London after finishing school in the 1960s. The source also said Nakachian had been a building contractor in Saudi Arabia for a decade.
Melodie’s mother is a Korean singer, Kim Hong-Hee, whose last recording album appeared in France in September. Her professional name is Princess Kimera.