Colombia rebels free Spanish journalist

AFP - [email protected] • 28 May, 2016 Updated Sat 28 May 2016 15:44 CEST
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The Colombian rebel group ELN freed a prominent Spanish-Colombian journalist and two local TV reporters Friday after holding them for nearly a week.


The Spanish-Colombian correspondent, Salud Hernandez-Mora, confirmed she was abducted and held by the communist guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and thanked the Catholic Church for facilitating her release.

Two other reporters, for the Colombian TV network RCN, were also freed, RCN said via Twitter.

Hernandez-Mora, who works for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and Colombia's El Tiempo, went missing Saturday while reporting in a region of northeast Colombia dominated by guerrilla groups and drug traffickers.

Her colleagues Diego D'Pablos and Carlos Melo of RCN were then attacked and detained Monday while covering her disappearance. They were freed Friday, too.

Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas blamed the ELN for all three abductions, but the rebels have not claimed them.

Hernandez-Mora was handed over to a delegation from the Catholic Church and travelled in a church vehicle to the town of Ocana in the department of Norte de Santander, an editor at El Tiempo, Andres Mompotes, told AFP.

He said she told him she had been treated well in captivity.

Hernandez-Mora said she was "doing splendidly" in brief comments to television channel Caracol.

"Thank you very much to the Catholic Church, thank you very much to all my colleagues," the 59-year-old journalist said.

"Everything has happened very quickly. But my return won't be quick because, as we know, the roads in rural Colombia are a disaster."

The three journalists went missing in the remote and restive region of Catatumbo.

Details about what happened to them have been sketchy partly because communications with the area are poor.

President Juan Manuel Santos said Hernandez-Mora's release "fills us with happiness."

The ELN, the country's second-largest rebel group, after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), recently agreed to begin peace talks with the government.

The government says it is close to signing a peace deal with the FARC. But negotiations with the ELN have been held up by ongoing hostilities and the issue of ransom kidnappings -- long the guerrillas' main source of funding.

The Colombian conflict, which started as a peasant uprising in the 1960s, has drawn in various armed groups and gangs over the decades, leaving 260,000 people dead and 45,000 missin



AFP 2016/05/28 15:44

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