Kidnapped Colombian Girl Is Reunited with Her Family

By Dialogo
October 19, 2011

A ten-year-old girl kidnapped in Colombia on September 29 was freed in the Arauca region on October 17, through the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced via his Twitter account.

“We celebrate the release of Nohora Valentina. We thank the ICRC for its efforts,” the president wrote, without giving more details.

Nohora Valentina Muñoz, daughter of Jorge Muñoz, the mayor of the municipality of Fortul, in Arauca, was kidnapped along with her mother by armed men while on her way to school. The mother was released shortly afterward.

On October 17, the girl arrived home in a black pickup truck, escorted by members of the Colombian Army and police. “I’m thankful for those who helped free me,” the girl told reporters before going inside.

General Jaime Reyes, commander of the Army’s 18th Brigade, indicated to reporters that the release took place in the municipality of Arauquita, “only a few kilometers from the border with Venezuela,” where factions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) operate.

The ICRC had unsuccessfully attempted a mission to obtain the girl’s release on October 14, for which purpose Santos’s administration suspended military operations in one sector of Arauca for several hours.

“The ICRC’s participation in this handover was requested by the girl’s family and by the armed actors who held her captive. The ICRC thanks all parties for the trust placed in the institution and the facilities offered by the Colombian Government,” a statement by the humanitarian organization added.

The ICRC did not clarify the identity of the kidnappers.

The Colombian government had requested that Venezuela prevent the kidnappers from possibly moving the child to that country.

The FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN), both leftist guerrilla groups, are active in the area, which is rich in oil. Criminal groups and drug traffickers also have a presence.