Two police officers were kidnapped Saturday in southwestern Colombia, allegedly by the FARC rebel group, the country’s largest, according to national media.
Major German Mendoza and patrolman Edilmar Muñoz were believed to have been driving just outside of the Tumaco municipality in the southern state of Nariño when they were taken. Their car was discovered empty Saturday afternoon.
Initial reports indicated that the Daniel Aldana Column of the 29th Front of the FARC was responsible for the kidnapping of the two officers.
General Omar Rubiano explained that the officers were finishing up some tasks and dialogues with communities regarding a “political, social and economic consultation plan” when they went missing, according to radio station Caracol Radio.
Since then, authorities from both Colombia’s National Police and Army have been searching to uncover the officers’ whereabouts.
Conflicting news reports on the outcome of this search have prompted public officials to involve themselves.
The El Espectador newspaper wrote Monday morning that the two men were found dead, according to information garnered from the Technical Investigation Body (CTI) of the Prosecutor General’s Office. The article claimed that there would be an announcement Monday confirming their deaths.
According to Caracol Radio, however, the director of the Anti-Kidnapping and Extortion wing of the National Police claimed that news of the officers’ deaths was a rumor, and that “the authorities were not able to confirm that in this moment.”
Jaime Rodriguez, the governor of Nariño, said as late as Monday morning that he is hoping the officers are found alive, according to Caracol Radio.
Nariño Ombudsman Gilma Burbano traveled to Tumaco Monday to investigate the kidnapping.
Burbano expressed wider reaching concern regarding the incident. If the FARC is indeed responsible, it would mean the rebel group has broken a good will promise to end its longstanding practice of kidnapping throughout the country during ongoing negotiations with the Colombian government.
Nariño has been a longtime hotbed of FARC activity. Tumaco itself was left without power and water for several weeks last year following bombings attributed to the rebels.
The FARC have been negotiating a potential peace agreement with the Colombian government in Havana, Cuba, since November 2012. No ceasefire was put in place prior to the start of talks, however.
So far, the group has not taken credit for the kidnapping, nor have any demands been reported.
- Secuestrados dos policías en Tumaco (El Espectador)
- Habrían hallado los cuerpos de los dos policías secuestrados en Nariño (El Espectador)
- Mantienen esperanza de encontrar vivos a policías secuestrados en Tumaco (Caracol Radio)
- Defensoría se desplaza a Tumaco para esclarecer secuestro de dos policías (Caracol Radio)
- Intensa búsqueda de dos policías secuestrados por las Farc (Caracol Radio)