Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno on Friday confirmed the deaths of two journalists and their driver who were kidnapped by FARC dissidents in March and feared dead for days.
Authorities had received a photograph of the allegedly dead victims on Thursday, but the government would not confirm their death until the deadline for a proof of life expired.
Moreno had given kidnappers a 12-hour ultimatum on Thursday night to prove whether the victims were alive.
Moreno said that new information confirmed the deaths.
“It is with deep sorrow that I regret to report that the twelve-hour deadline has passed and that we have no proof of life and unfortunately we have information that confirms the murder of our compatriots,” Moreno announced.
Two Ecuadorean journalists for the newspaper the El Comercio and their driver were kidnapped on March 26 in northern Ecuador and were believed to be held in Colombia.
The so-called Oliver Sinisterra Front had demanded the release of three jailed members and an end to a bilateral anti-terrorism deal in exchange for the hostages.
Colombia’s government had refused to confirm the victims were held in Colombia, while Ecuador’s government said the proof was in a video sent by the guerrillas earlier this month, which mentioned a “return to Ecuador.”
The guerrilla group said the hostages were killed during a military rescue mission in a statement sent to media on Wednesday.
Colombia and Ecuador had both denied a direct military rescue operation took place and said they only had set up reinforcements to “control” the region.
The Interamerican Commission of Human Rights demanded on Thursday that both Colombia and Ecuador “guarantee the life and integrity” of the kidnapped victims and journalists in general.
Moreno skipped his scheduled visit to Peru for the Americas Summit to deal with the kidnapping situation.
Colombia and Ecuador announced a joint operation would be made to bring down the guerrilla group led by “Guacho.”