A pair of Peruvian army officers on Monday arrived in Bolivar, northern Colombia, to aid the Colombian armed forces in their search for the two Peruvian contractors kidnapped on Friday by the leftist rebel group, ELN.
According to Caracol Radio, the officials Eduardo Solis and Walter Salazar Sanchez were informed by the director of Colombia’s anti-kidnapping police about the operations launched to rescue the Peruvian nationals.
ELN rebels from the “Simon Bolivar” Column on Friday kidnapped one Canadian, two Peruvians and two Colombians who were doing exploration work for a Toronto-based gold mining company.
Colombian authorities on Tuesday claimed to have identified the ELN rebel leaders responsible for the kidnapping. One of whom, alias “Gonzalo,” presumed to be the leader of the Simon Bolivar Column, is also held responsible for the hijacking of an Avianca Focke Wulf aircraft.
Colombian police on Monday captured three individuals suspected of participating in the kidnapping.
Some investigators believe the ELN rebels launched the kidnapping in order to join the ongoing peace talks between the government and the country’s largest rebel group FARC.
The Norosi municipality and the southern part of Colombia’s northern Bolivar department is a traditional heartland of the ELN rebels.
The ELN, with between 2,000 and 3,000 armed fighters, has been fighting the Colombian state since 1964.