Family taken hostage in Swiss gold heist: police

GENEVA: A family was taken hostage in Switzerland Friday to force the head of a precious metals company to hand over large amounts of gold, police said.

The hostages were later released unharmed, while a manhunt was underway for the six hostage-takers in neighbouring France, the regional Neuchatel police said in a statement.

“At dawn, six individuals took a family hostage in Chaux-de-Fonds,” in western Switzerland, the statement said.

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Police spokesman Pierre-Louis Rochaix told AFP the family consisted of a father, mother and a child aged around 10.

“They were taken hostage at their home,” he said, adding that no physical violence appeared to have been used.

The father, who heads precious metals company Cendror, was forced to go to his office to fetch “a large quantity of gold” and hand it over to the hostage-takers, the police statement said.

The kidnappers had taken the family with them to an area called Biaufond, where they left them before heading towards the nearby French border.

Once the police were notified, a “large contingent” was deployed, first in Switzerland and subsequently in France, where national police are searching for the perpetrators, the statement said.

A Neuchatel prosecutor has opened criminal proceedings in the case, it added.

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