Colombian police reported that the five hostages supposedly released by Colombia’s second largest left-wing guerrilla group ELN, have not yet been handed over.
It was reported earlier Wednesday that the ELN released five oil workers being held hostage in the north of Colombia – three Colombians and two Peruvians. General Humberto Guatibonza, commander of the National Police’s Anti-Kidnapping and Extortion unit confirmed that the hostages “have not appeared anywhere yet.”
The hostages are reported to work for Canadian oil company Geo Explorer.
BACKGROUND: ELN release five hostages in north Colombia
Guatibonza also stated that he is surprised that the supposedly freed hostages are not yet in the hands of the authorities as they are about to enter their twenty-fourth hour of freedom.
The leftist rebel group stated their intent to free those held captive via their official website on the night of February 12. ELN communicators used the publicity surrounding the hostage release to express their opposition to foreign oil companies drilling in Colombia.
Amid the confusion surrounding the location of the hostages, Guatibonza went on to state, “the only thing I know is the ELN statement” continuing with “all I know is that the authorities are looking for [the hostages].”
The police commander expressed his distrust in the rebel group’s online post saying, “I have my doubts [about the release] because these things have their strategies, trickery; it is not [black and white] … they’re talking about five [hostages] and there are six; so they kept the Canadian.”
ELN guerrillas also kidnapped Canadian oil worker Jernoc Wobert but the rebels have made no indication that he is to be released.
Hostage cases involving Colombia’s second largest leftist guerilla group have seen a spike in 2013. Along with the five supposedly freed South Americans and the Canadian presumably still in captivity, the guerrilla group is also holding two Germans whom they claim are suspected of spying.
BACKGROUND: ELN kidnaps 2 Germans in northern Colombia
The rise in activity by the ELN is often credited to their desire to partake in peace talks currently being held between the Colombian government and its largest left-wing rebel group, the FARC.