Five oil company employees were released on Thursday, 24 hours after their kidnapping in a Colombian mining district known for its paramilitary and guerrilla activity.
The five Sercapetrol employees were kidnapped from a vehicle Wednesday morning on the road between San Juan de Arama and Vista Hermosa, in a remote southern area of the central state of Meta. They had been on their way to perform seismic surveys in the area.
According to Santa Fe Radio, the victims were released after strong pressure from the Colombian military. While authorities, including the governor of Meta, are now accusing a group of 60 guerrillas belonging to FARC‘s 27th front, no group has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the kidnappings.
Since the beginning of peace talks in November 2012, the FARC agreed to cease its longstanding practice of kidnapping as a show of good faith to the Colombian people. However, in addition to the Meta kidnappings, authorities also accused FARC of the kidnapping and murder of two police officers earlier in the week. This has led to a widespread backlash against the guerilla group, threatening to impede the peace negotiations in Havana.