Two prestigious Colombian media, the newspaper El Tiempo, of Bogotá, and the magazine Semana, have reported on their websites that the two journalists of the newspaper El Comercio and their driver, who were kidnapped on Monday in Mataje, have been released. According to El Tiempo, military sources confirmed to that newspaper that the three journalists were released due to “joint pressure from the troops of both countries.”
According to El Tiempo, the journalists were in Ecuadorian territory, near Mataje, in Esmeraldas. The Colombian authorities have said that the journalists and the driver are in good health and that they are in the power of the Ecuadorian Army.
Until 22:35 this Wednesday, the Secretariat of Communication of Ecuador has not denied or confirmed the release. According to the journalist Juan Carlos Aizprúa, of the Ecuavisa chain, the Minister of the Interior of Ecuador, César Navas, and of Defense, Patricio Zambrano, have said that “the alleged release of kidnapped Ecuadorian journalists is not true.”
El Tiempo confirmed that the kidnapping was perpetrated by men of alias Guacho, head of one of the FARC’s dissidence. A ‘Guacho’ is responsible for activating a car bomb on January 27, leaving 23 people injured in the province of Esmeraldas, the same area where journalists were kidnapped.
The journalists were kidnapped last Monday when they traveled to carry out interviews about the complex public order that exists in the area on account of drug trafficking and dissent. The team lost contact after passing a military checkpoint one kilometer from the town of Mataje, Ecuadorian authorities reported.
Ecuador announced that it has arranged more uniforms on the border with Colombia to confront organized groups linked to drug trafficking, which, according to its government, act on the Colombian side of the border area. (I)