‘FARC’ maintain west Colombia river blockade, 250 people held hostage

Alleged guerrilles of the FARC continued their blockade of a river in the western Colombian department of Choco, holding some 250 people hostage in a small village, despite allowing some river travelers to leave on foot.

The delicate situation is attributed to the FARC’s 34th Front, which sparked the humanitarian crisis on Sunday morning by killing four people and surrounding the small village of Las Mercedes, Choco.

Estimates vary between 200 and 250 people who are currently held hostage in the village, amid growing fears for their welfare. The Medio Atrato mayor, Luis Moreno, expressed concerns that “they are running out of food.”

The FARC did apparently release 140 farmers who had been detained while traveling down the Atrato River. Although the FARC did not allow them to retain their boats, the farmers were released and allowed to complete their journey by land.

According to Radio Santa Fe, the FARC announced that the “armed strike” will impede mobility on the river until at least June.

Local officials have called for national intervention, with Ombudsman Vitor Raul Mosquera claiming that between 3,000 and 4,000 people will effectively be hostages in the dense jungle region, RCN Radio reported.

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