A kidnapped oil worker released by guerrillas Tuesday said the army did not help him or his fellow hostages despite being only 150 yards away from where they were being held.
Javier Muñoz, one of a group of workers kidnapped by the ELN in Colombia’s northeastern Arauca department last week, told Radio Caracol the army did nothing to prevent their capture and put no pressure on the rebels to secure their release.
Muñoz, who was captured with ten colleagues while traveling from a pipeline construction site by bus, said, “We heard an airplane once, but far away. Since we were captured, we were 150 yards away from the Army, and yet they didn’t notice that the bus had been diverted from its route.”
Muñoz described the moment that the group was captured, “Two men got on after everyone else and threatened us with pistols. Everyone was face down on the bus, lying down, we didn’t know anything. Then they blindfolded us.”
He said while they were being held they had no idea of their location. “One was scared, with blindfolded eyes, without knowing where you had been taken, walking by day and at night sometimes in cars or motorbikes, the guerrillas were pulling us all the time. They didn’t tell us anything.”
The motive for the kidnapping was made clear, he added. “We were kidnapped because of the fact we were working on the Bicentennial Pipeline, because the ELN does not agree with the project, and they told us that we would be detained there, that we had been kidnapped by the ELN,” said Muñoz.
The men were released into the care of the Red Cross, the church and Ombudsman’s Office in the department of Cauca Tuesday.