Colombia’s leftist guerrillas kidnap six


Bogota : Five Colombians and a Norwegian have been kidnapped by the radical leftist outfit Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Spanish news agency EFE reported Tuesday.

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A FARC unit led by a rebel known as Becerro Sunday abducted the six in Morromico, between the coastal towns of Nuqui and Utria Bay, an army spokesman said.

Those kidnapped were identified as Ana Maria Aldana Serrano, Cesar Hoyos Benites, Hernando Martinez Rodriguez, Jose Alejandro Torres Hoyos and Jose Arnulfo Rodriguez Barrera from Colombia and Alf Onshuus Niño, a Norwegian.

The official said massive search operations were being carried out in the area to find the kidnapped tourists.

The FARC unit operates in the jungles of Choco province in northwestern Colombia bordering Panama, the official said.

The FARC, founded in 1964, is Colombia’s oldest and largest guerrilla group with an estimated 20,000 fighters and is led by septuagenarian founder Manuel Marulanda, known as “Sureshot”.

Hostage taking is a major fund-raising and tactical operation of the FARC. The rebel group has some high-profile hostages like former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three US military contractors, whom it calls American spies.

Last week the FARC had released Colombian vice-presidential candidate Clara Rojas and former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez, after almost six years in captivity, in an international operation led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The rebels called the release a humanitarian gesture.

The US and EU have listed the FARC as a terrorist organisation.