Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon demanded the FARC to release the four Chinese oil workers taken hostage on Wednesday and said that peace talks can not happen until the kidnappings stop.
Garzon warned the guerrillas that the Colombian government and security forces will make every effort to find the whereabouts of the foreign hostages and advised them to release the Chinese nationals, Caracol Radio reported Friday.
The official also called on the Colombian people to unite with the government to create a common front to prevent these sorts of violent acts from being committed by FARC guerrillas and other illegal armed groups.
The kidnapping took place as the employees were traveling in a car near the town of San Vicente de Caguan, in the southern department of Caqueta when a group of armed men blocked the road and took them hostage, reported local government official Edilberto Ramon Henido to international news agency AFP.
Earlier Friday, Colombian National Police announced the capture of Walter Hernandez Muñeton, alias “El Viejo,” the ringleader of the Caqueta branch of the Teofilo Forero Mobile column of the FARC, alleged to be responsible for the kidnapping of the oil workers.
For its part, Beijing announced it is “making every effort” to rescue the kidnapped oil workers form the Chinese oil company Sinochem, who were contracted out to British oil company Emerald Energy operating in Colombia.
Colombian National Police reported Thursday that the motivation for the kidnapping was the extortion of ransom payments.
Earlier this year, President Juan Manuel Santos warned multinational companies that they would be kicked out of the country if they paid ransoms to rebel groups or other criminal gangs that have kidnapped their employees.