Chinese workers kidnapped in Colombia

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Bogota, Colombia (BDCi) – Three workers for an oil company subsidiary of a Chinese multinational conglomerate were kidnapped in southern Colombia an official of the Colombian government said Thursday. A fourth person who was identified as a translator was also reported as abducted, but the nationality was not confirmed.

The government blames the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for the kidnappings. FARC is South America’s longest running insurgency, having declared war against Colombia starting back in 1964 and having an estimated enrollment of 8,000 militants.

Edilberto Ramon Henido, secretary of the local government in southern Caqueta, told reporters that the kidnapping took place as the employees were travelling in a car near the town of San Vicente de Caguan, when a group of armed men blocked the road and took them hostage. The Colombian driver was later released after the hostages were taken up into the nearby mountains.

The kidnapping follows a FARC abduction of 23 oil workers in eastern Colombia in March. Those hostages worked for South American Exploration, a subcontractor of Canadian oil company Talisman Energy and Colombia’s Ecopetrol. All but one of those hostages were released, but indication is that the release was predicated on a multi-million dollar ransom.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos used the March incident to warn multi-national companies that they will be kicked out of Colombia if they pay ransoms to the rebel groups.

Last year, 282 people were kidnapped in Colombia, a 32% year on year increase, with about 100 of them the responsibility of leftist guerillas.

By Don Weinstein

Source: CNN, Agence France-Presse (AFP)

11 June 2011

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