A dissident faction of Colombia’s former FARC guerrilla group demanded a ceasefire from Ecuador on Monday to repatriate murdered hostages from that country.
The rebel leader released a statement in which he urged Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno to create a “humanitarian corridor” along the Ecuadorean border that would allow for international organizations to pick up the bodies of the journalists.
The church also offered to assist with the repatriation process, according to Caracol Radio.
The rebel leader warned that if Quito doesn’t agree to the ceasefire, “you are compromising more Ecuadorean nationals,” including “two members of Ecuadorean intelligence” the group claimed to have captured 15 days ago.
Local news media have reported that the group is holding a civilian couple hostage.
The three Ecuadoreans killed — a journalist, a cameraman, and their driver — were allegedly investigating the escalating, drug-fueled tensions in the border region.
Guacho, who is an ex mid-level commander of the FARC, is said to be in command of up to 500 dissident fighters in Nariño’s Tumaco municipality in Colombia and the neighboring Esmeraldas province in Ecuador.
According to studies, Tumaco produces almost 15% of the country’s coca, the base ingredient for cocaine. The drugs are shipped to Central America from ports in Colombia and Ecuador.
Just days ago, locals from Tumaco protested against the state’s ineffectiveness in curbing violence in the region that has long been overrun by illegal armed groups and drug traffickers.