87 Taken Hostage In Colombia This Year: Report

By Dialogo
April 27, 2009

Eighty-seven people have been abducted in Colombia since the beginning of the year, although only 10 remain hostages, according to Bogota's official anti-kidnap agency. The 10 are included in the 125 still being held in the South American country, mostly by the leftist, rural-based rebels in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Fondelibertad agency said in a report. Fifty of those taken hostage this year have been released through the intervention of Colombian security forces, four had been killed by their captors, 14 were released in exchange for ransoms and nine had managed to escape, Hernan Henao, director of Fondelibertad, told AFP. According to Henao, 63 of the kidnappings were carried out as part of "regular" crimes, 16 people were abducted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), five by "criminal gangs" and three by the National Liberation Army (ELN). The report released earlier this month has stoked controversy, with critics arguing there are many more hostages being held in Colombia. According to the rights group Pais Libre, the official anti-kidnapping agency itself notes some 1,500 missing persons about whom they lack sufficient information. President Alvaro Uribe last month rejected a political dialogue with the FARC, the country's largest guerrilla group with an estimated 7,000 fighters, which continues to hold some 22 Colombian police and soldiers they want to exchange for imprisoned colleagues. Last year some of the FARC's most high-profile hostages were rescued from their jungle captivity, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans.