Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said that the about-turn was due to the mishandling of information by authorities.
“This morning I was informed by the commander of the Brigade that this had happened. He informed General Navas, who called me, and in this way we confirmed the information with the commander of the Division and finally the army. The result is that that information [about the release] is not true,” announced the minister.
Pinzon continued, “We must say that this is not so, then we have to continue operations and hopefully this will end with good news.”
The minister said that it remains unknown whether the oil workers were being held by an illegal armed group, and that so far there was no news of their whereabouts and no demands have been received from kidnappers.
The missing men are Heriberto Mendoza Naranjo, Camilo Esteban Vega, Jose Javier Munoz, Daniel Munoz, Agustin Gonzalez Romero, Jose Carrillo Bernardino, Leon Simon Lizarazu, the driver Edgar Rojas and his assistant Ojeda.
The abduction came only days after the country’s biggest rebel group FARC, one of the illegal armed groups in the Arauca region, announced that they would stop kidnapping civilians. The ELN, Colombia‘s second largest rebel group, is also highly active in the region.