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Executive kidnapped by gunmen

DUBLIN, Ireland -- Four heavily armed men thought to be IRA terrorists posing as police officers Thursday kidnapped a supermarket chain executive driving his young daughter to school.

The abduction of Don Tidey, 49, vice-chairman of the British-owned Quinnsworth supermarket chain came four months after police foiled an attempt to kidnap the multimillionaire director of the chain, Galen Weston, a polo-playing friend of Britain's Prince Charles.

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Tidey, a widower with four children, was abducted on a road near his home in the fashionable Dublin suburb of Rathfarnham as he drove his 13-year-old daughter, Susan, to school.

Police said several hours later no ransom demands had been received.

A car flashing a blue police beacon flagged Tidey's Daimler limousine to a halt, said Tidey's son, Alister, who was following his father in a red Fiat.

The 21-year-old son said four men, three in police uniforms and carrying submachine guns and pistols, hauled Susan out of the limo and shoved Tidey from behind the wheel.

Three drove away with the businessman in his luxury car, and the fourth sped off in the terrorists' car.

Alister and his sister were left distraught and shaken on the roadside.

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The empty Daimler was found abandoned a few blocks away. The gunmen's getaway car was discovered in flames near Maynooth, 10 miles east of Dublin.

Authorities suspected the Irish Republican Army of abducting Tidey, a native of Exeter, England.

'It does bear the hallmarks of terrorism,' Irish Justice Minister Michael Noonan said. 'The garda (police) will not be tardy in seeking out the perpetrators and bringing them to justice.'

The IRA kidnap attempt on Weston four months ago was foiled by anti-terrorist police who were tipped to the plot and ambushed the kidnap gang when it tried to seize Weston at his isolated Irish country home.

Police shot and wounded four of the seven gunmen in the ensuing gunbattle. Five men wereconvicted and sentenced to terms up to 14 years for the attempt.

Weston's brother, Garry Weston, is chairman of Associated British Foods, parent company of Quinnsworth, which operates in Northern Ireland as well as the Irish Republic.

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