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Authorities “without trace” of missing Braga businessman

The family of a missing 43-year-old businessman from Braga are in despair today after an agonising weekend waiting for news of what may have happened to him.

Paulo Fernandes was snatched off the street in front of his horrified eight-year-old daughter on Friday night.

Two men, described as armed and wearing balaclavas, wrestled him into a grey Mercedes as he prepared to open the door to his home in Lamaçães.

His daughter raised the alarm by running for help to a nearby chemists – but since then, the authorities have been stumped.

Despite widespread patrols, there is no sign of Fernandes, nor has there been a ransom demand.

According to national tabloid Correio da Manhã, the kidnapping could be linked to a construction business that went into bankruptcy in 2012. Police are working on the basis that the snatch could be “a settling of old scores”, says the paper, adding that Fernandes, who used to work for the business, now works in construction in France.

The missing man’s two brothers are described as helping authorities “almost 24 hours a day” as they try to piece together the details that might lead to Fernandes’ recovery.

“It has been a very difficult time,” a friend of the family is reported as saying. “The family believes in the police, but it is very frightened.”

Householders too are described as “frightened” as the residential area from which Fernandes was snatched is normally “quiet” and unused to violent crime.

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