A former state reprentative has mysteriously disappeared in the northeast of Colombia, local authorities said Thursday.
According to the Police commissioner of the northeastern Arauca state, former Representative Juan Carlos Santamaria (Democratic Center) disappeared from the state capital of the same name between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.
While Santamaria reportedly alerted a friend he was being kidnapped, Police commander Colonel Camilo Alvarez said that this was not confirmed.
“According to testimonies delivered by residents of the sector [where the politician lives], no vehicle was seen. Around 6:45 in the evening, the man went for a walk and around 8 his friend received the call in which [Santamaria] indicated he was being taken from Matecandela on the outskirts of Arauca,” said Alvarez.
In spite of the conflicting testimonies, the authorities are treating the disappearance as a kidnapping case “even though until there is no ransom request or group claiming responsibility,” said the police commander.
The director of Colombia’s National Protection Unit (UNP), Andres Villamizar, which had a bodyguard assigned to the politician, said there was “no real evidence there had been violence.”
Additionally, Villamizar said it “sounds strange that someone can call to warn he is being kidnapped.”
The politician had sent his bodyguard home before he disappeared, said the UNP director.
The remote Arauca state where the politician disappeared is one of Colombia’s most affected states by the country’s ongoing armed conflict between leftist guerrilla groups like the FARC and ELN, and the state.