10-year-old reunited with family, ending 19-day kidnap drama

A 10-year-old girl who had been kidnapped in the northeast of Colombia almost three weeks ago was reunited with her family Monday after the child’s surprise release.

“I am very happy to be with my parents and with my friends,” Nhora Valentina Muñoz told reporters in front of her home in the town of Fortul where her father is mayor.

The girl fell into the arms of her father Monday evening hours after a Red Cross delegation had picked her up only yards from the Venezuelan border and some 30 miles from home.

“We are very happy that Nhora Valentina has been reunited with her family after this painful separation,” the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a press release.

“The ICRC thanks all parties for the shown trust in the institution and the facilities offered by the Colombian government,” the humanitarian organization added.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who announced the release of the girl through Twitter, said “we celebrate [the] release of Nohora Valentina. We thank the Red Cross for its negotiation.”

The September 29 kidnapping of the 10-year-old led to outrage across Colombia.

According to the government, one of the leftist guerrilla groups that are active in the region kidnapped the child, but both the FARC and ELN have denied involvement and denounced the kidnapping of the girl. Both groups have used kidnapping for decades as political leverage and for extortion purposes. The Red Cross, which had mediated with the armed group, has refused to make statements regarding the identity of the kidnappers.

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