The international committee of the Red Cross confirmed Friday the release of five of the six miners taken hostage by the ELN, Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the whereabouts of the remaining Canadian hostage are unknown.
One Canadian, two Peruvians, and three Colombians, all reportedly working for the Canadian oil company Geo Explorer, were captured on January 18 by the ELN, who announced the release of the hostages on Wednesday. However the government refused to credit the announcement because the whereabouts of the hostages were unknown.
Colombian President Juan Manual Santos confirmed this on his twitter account.
“The two Peruvian citizens and three Colombians are already free. It is unacceptable that the Canadian citizen is not free,” Santos tweeted.
Ya están libres los dos ciudadanos peruanos y los tres colombianos. Es inaceptable que no esté libre el ciudadano canadiense.
Hostage cases involving the ELN 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.