ELN Guerrillas Capture Two Germans in Colombia
By Dialogo February 06, 2013
The National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla, the second largest insurgent organization in Colombia, confirmed that they captured two German citizens considered “intelligence agents,” according to a statement published on the insurgency website on February 4.
“ELN units have captured alleged German citizens Breur Uwe and Breuer Günther Otto in the region of Catatumbo (near the Venezuelan border), the statement said.
Soon after the statement was made public, President Juan Manuel demanded the release of the two Germans.
“They must release them, because they alone, the ELN, will be responsible for the lives of these two men before the world,” the president said in a public ceremony held in the city of Ibagué.
A spokesman from the German Embassy in Bogotá explained that “for the moment, the embassy will not make comments out of respect for the victims and their families.”
The rebel group said in a statement that they considered these people “intelligence agents,” because “they have not been able to explain what they were doing in the area at the time of their capture.”
The insurgency did not specify the date in which these men were kidnapped.
“So far, no institution or person has publicly reported the disappearance of these people. Spies are not protected under the International Humanitarian Law (IHL),” the report concluded, signed by the ELN’s North Eastern Front leads.
“Who would think that two Germans are spying here in Colombia? That’s an excuse that no one in their sound mind could accept or understand; it’s a lie. [They are] not spies,” claimed President Santos.
Two weeks ago, the ELN, which is composed of 2,500 guerrillas, claimed responsibility for kidnapping six mining employees, two of which are Peruvian, and one is Canadian.
President Santos also offered to call on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to negotiate their release, and he assured that although authorities are aware of their location, he has held back from “organizing a military operation, in order to avoid risking the lives of the victims.”
The ELN has been active in Colombia since 1965.