Protesting farmers in the southwest of Colombia have released four soldiers they were holding captive since the weekend, local authorities said on Tuesday.
According to the governor of the Cauca department, Temistocles Ortega, farmers from the Mercaderes municipality released the soldiers on Monday evening after mediation by the United Nations.
The army officials were detained over the weekend while waiting at one of the roadblocks put up by angry farmers in Mercaderes.
This is the second time soldiers have been taken hostage in Cauca in the last week. Two other soldiers were captured on Tuesday only to be released to representatives of the Ombudsman’s Office, the Red Cross and the UN on Saturday. Last year, locals reportedly held 30 soldiers hostage after their army unit killed a neighbor.
The situation in Mercaderes has been tense since a countrywide accumulation of strikes kicked off two weeks ago. Following the blocking of roads and the burning of at least one truck by protesting farmers, strong confrontations between the army and police on one end, and the civilian population on the other were reported. in the clashes at least eight farmers and three policemen were injured.