Colombian Rebels Free 11 Oil Workers

By Dialogo
March 08, 2012

On March 6, leftist rebels freed 11 oil workers who were taken captive last month near Colombia’s border with Venezuela, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

The ICRC said the group of workers, who were employed by contractor Consorcio Casanare Avanzada, were turned over by members of the National Liberation Army, or ELN by its Spanish acronym, in a rural area of the department of Arauca.

“We have undertaken this operation at the direct request of the armed group and the families,” said Michael Kramer, who heads the ICRC delegation in Colombia.

The workers were involved in the construction of a 960-kilometer (600-mile) pipeline for Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol when they were taken captive by rebels on February 28.

With an estimated 2,500 fighters, the ELN is the second largest guerrilla group in Colombia after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which has some 9,000 combatants, according to the Colombian government.