Venezuelan journalist freed after one-week kidnap

CARACAS, April 14 Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:40am EDT

CARACAS, April 14 (Reuters) - A high-profile Venezuelan journalist was freed on Monday after a week-long kidnapping that thrust attention once again on the South American nation's endemic violent crime.

Nairobi Pinto, 32-year-old head of correspondents for private TV station Globovision, was found "safe and sound" in the town of Cua, about 60 km (38 miles) south of Caracas, authorities said.

"She's alive, she's fine," said her TV station, which for years was a vehemently anti-government broadcaster until a change of ownership in 2013.

No further details were given of Pinto's kidnapping, which had been front-page news for a week and drawn attention to what most Venezuelans say is their nation's No. 1 problem: crime.

The United Nations said last week Venezuela had the world's second-highest murder rate, quoting 2012 figures of 53.7 homicides per 100,000 people. President Nicolas Maduro's government said that figure fell to 39 last year, but a local non-government watchdog says the real level was double that.

Kidnappings, also, are rife, mainly for extortion.

Pinto was taken by armed gunmen on April 6 returning home from a supermarket in Caracas. Colleagues and relatives had been holding daily vigils and marches to demand her safe return.

Crime has been a major complaint of anti-government protesters who have been taking to the streets since early February, sparking unrest that has killed 41 people.

The murder in January of a former Miss Venezuela and her ex-husband, in front of their five-year-old daughter, caused particular outrage in the nation of 29 million people.

(For a feature on crime in Venezuela, see ) (Reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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