The nine-year-old daughter of a local police commander has been kidnapped from school in a rural area in the southwest of Colombia, local authorities said Tuesday.
The army’s Third Brigade told Colombia Reports that security forces have begun a manhunt immediately after the kidnapping took place early Tuesday morning.
The mayor of the Gauchene, a municipality 20 miles south of Cali, told Blu Radio that the girl was kidnapped by a group of armed men as she was entering school.
The victim is the daughter of a police commander working in the nearby village of Padilla, said the official.
According to Mayor Francisco Paz, hundreds of locals — armed with sticks and machetes — went after the allegedly armed kidnappers on hearing about the incident. The army said special army forces and local police have also begun a search.
The kidnappers allegedly fled the village taking a route commonly used by local guerrillas of the FARC, Colombia’s largest rebel group and currently engaged in peace talks with the government.
However, both the Third Brigade and the mayor said to have no indication of who the perpetrators of the kidnapping are.
Colombian rebel groups and common criminals have long used kidnappings either for economic gain or strategic purposes. However, security gains made earlier this century forced a massive drop in kidnapping cases from more than 3,500 in the year 2000 to less than 300 last year.
The FARC ordered a ban on kidnapping in early 2012. Since then, 80% of kidnapping in Colombia has been carried out by common criminals according to the government. Rebel groups FARC and ELN were held responsible for 61 kidnappings carried in 2013.
FACT SHEET: Kidnapping statistics
- Con machete en mano, intentan rescatar a niña de 9 años raptada en Cauca (Blu Radio)
- Interview with Third Brigade spokesperson