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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mormons To Remain In Saratov

SALT LAKE CITY -- The kidnapping of two American Mormon missionaries in Russia has not changed the church's commitment to proselytizing in the area, church President Gordon Hinckley said.

"This was an isolated instance," said Hinckley, who is the head of the 10 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"I've been with missionaries all over the world. They do their work, some of them in high-risk areas, but this was an isolated instance," Hinckley said on KSL-TV while in Palmyra, New York, to dedicate two buildings commemorating the church's founding there in 1830.

Andrew Lee Propst, 20, and Travis Robert Tuttle, 20, were going to an appointment in Saratov, Russia, set up by someone purportedly interested in the church March 18 when they were ambushed by masked men and beaten with wooden sticks.

They were held captive for four days as their captors demanded a $300,000 ransom. The missionaries were released Sunday morning without the kidnappers receiving the money.

Hinckley said Propst and Tuttle are now in Frankfurt, Germany, being debriefed by the American Embassy. The church has said the two will be reassigned to missions outside of Russia, but Hinckley said other young men will take their place in the Samara Mission.

Police have arrested two suspects -- a woman who allegedly set up the ambush and a 44-year-old man who authorities say is a former Mormon. A third suspect remains at large.