The Chinese oil workers kidnapped by alleged FARC members were taken hostage for the purpose of extortion, with the rebel group seeking to receive ransom money, according to police, Caracol Radio reported Thursday.
The kidnapping took place as the employees were traveling in a car near the town of San Vicente de Caguan, in the southern Colombian department of Caqueta, when a group of armed men blocked the road and took them hostage. A translator was also kidnapped but later released.
Caqueta Police Commander Carlos Vargas attributed the kidnapping to the Teofilo Forero Mobile Column of the FARC, who retain a heavy presence in the area, stating that this most recent extortion is a mechanism for generating finances in response to the heavy blows inflicted upon them by the armed forces recently.
Vargas said, however, that “there has not yet been direct communication with the oil company (Emerald Energy) or with the families, because there are difficulties in communication and signal coverage.”
He noted that the armed forces have already begun operational deployment and that the Task Force Omega has been at the front since yesterday. They are searching the rural area of San Vicente de Caguan, particularly in the border areas between Caqueta and the neighboring department of Meta.
Colombia’s intelligence agency DAS tweeted Thursday morning they were offering support to the search bloc.
Caqueta’s government secretary, Edilberto Ramon Endo, lamented the effect that such an event would have on potential investors, noting that “what does concern us is that, when there is so much investor confidence, these events occur.”
The kidnappings occurred only one day after President Juan Manuel Santos noted the high level of extortion in the Caqueta department and urged local people to come forward when they were being extorted, citing the fear of the people as a major hindrance in apprehending the culprits.