Colombia’s second-largest armed rebel group ELN released a video through local media on Tuesday of three kidnapped contractors as proof that they are still alive and healthy.
The hostages are employees of Termotecnica, a subcontractor for Bicentennial Pipeline of Colombia, one of the country’s most important pipelines crossing northeastern Colombia. Yesid Galindo, Nelson Carreño and Eber Morera said in the video that they were well and sent greetings to their families.
They are shown reading a statement flanked by four armed guerrillas. They indicate in the video that they are being held by the ELN’s Eastern Front.
One hostage said: “I want to send a special greeting to all my family and all the people who have been praying and sending many messages of encouragement to get us out well.”
Galindo, an engineer and manager, Morera, a technical manager, and Carreño, their driver, were kidnapped while leaving their homes on September 11, 2013, in the municipality of Saravena, which sits on the border with Venezuela in Arauca state.
Oil companies represent one of the main targets of the ELN. Last week they were held responsible for the bombing of the Caño Limon-Coveñas pipeline in Norte de Santander state, jointly owned by state-owned oil company Ecopetrol and US company Occidental Petroleum. The pipeline runs from Arauca state to the Caribbean coast. The same pipeline was attacked again on Saturday night.
The ELN are estimated to have 1,500 armed fighters and have expressed a willingness to enter the peace negotiations currently taking place in Havana, Cuba, between the government and Colombia’s largest armed rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).