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Wilson Ramos: Kidnapped MLB Player Rescued in Venezuela

Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post(WASHINGTON) -- Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, who was abducted earlier this week in his home country of Venezuela, is a free man today after officials rescued him in an air raid.

Ramos was found alive and safe Friday night, officials said.

Venezuelan security forces rescued Ramos 40 miles from his mother's home in Valencia.

Exactly how authorities found Ramos is unclear but officials say he was saved in an air raid where gunfire was exchanged. At least five kidnappers were arrested in connection with Ramos' abduction.

Ramos' mother was shown on television exclaiming, "Thanks to God!" After speaking to her son by phone, she said, "He's fine."

Ramos's family had been waiting to hear from kidnappers who abducted Ramos as police in Venezuela mounted an urgent nationwide search for the ballplayer.

Earlier on Friday night, fans of the Washington Nationals held a candlelight vigil for Ramos outside of their stadium.

Ramos, 24, was kidnapped at gunpoint in front of his family while visiting his mother's home in Venezuela. An eyewitness to the crime -- whose identity had to be protected -- described the chilling abduction.

"Suddenly and with no warning, I see the SUV stop and they're pointing at them with guns and the only thing they say is not to look at their faces," the witness said.

According to Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami, the vehicle used in the kidnapping was found abandoned in a nearby town. He said that anti-kidnapping units with top-notch investigators have been dispatched to central Carabobo state.

Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals issued a joint statement Thursday stating that the organization's Department of Investigations was "working with the appropriate authorities on this matter."

"This was a targeted kidnapping, so they were aware of where he was. They knew the money he could produce, they probably knew how much baseball players make," Chris Voss, former FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator, told ABC News.

Ramos is an emerging star with the Washington Nationals, a natural whose fielding and power hitting propelled him into the role of starting catcher in only his rookie season.

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