A Colombian general whose alleged capture by FARC guerrillas forced President Juan Manuel Santos to suspend peace talks wasn’t violently kidnapped, but left for the jungle with unarmed men and without any visible force, locals told newspaper El Colombiano.
What the locals say
According to the newspaper, locals told its reporter that General Ruben Dario Alzate, the commander of the Titan Task Force, arrived on Sunday by boat in the village of Las Mercedes unarmed and in civilian clothing.
“They got out of the motorboat and went to the churchyard. Downstream another boat came with three more men in civilian clothing who went to the church to talk to these people,” Presentacion Palomeque, the leader of the local community council, told El Colombiano.
According to Palomenque none of the six were armed.
The community leader said that Alzate, the four other men and one woman left for the nearby jungle following a conversation of a few minutes.
A second local who asked to remain anonymous said the six men left the village without any visible force.
The reporter for El Colombiano said he witnessed a strong military presence in the village of Las Mercedes itself, but saw no members of the military en route from Quibdo to the village where the general allegedly was captured.
What has become the official version
The witness reports contradict those of former President Alvaro Uribe, who announced the alleged capture on Twitter based on the testimony of a military member allegedly present at the time of the disappearance.
According to the now-senator, Alzate — ignoring all security protocols — had gone to the village in a so-called ” red zone” to carry out a project with the community. However, on arrival the official was surprised by members of the FARC’s 34th front who came out of the homes, retained and searched the general and his company before boarding a motorboat and leaving the town.
The alleged capture of the general is a novelty in Colombia; Never before was a guerrilla group able to capture such a high-ranking military official.
- Comunidad relata cómo fue el secuestro del general Alzate (El Colombiano)