Nine of 13 Kidnapped by Paramilitaries in Southern Colombia Are Released
By Dialogo September 16, 2011
At least 9 of the 13 people kidnapped on September 13 by a criminal gang led by former paramilitaries were released due to pressure from the Colombian Army, official sources announced on September 14.
“We don’t know the location of the other four, but the search is continuing,” the interior secretary of the province of Nariño, Fabio Trujillo, said.
The kidnapping was denounced by Ombudsman Volmar Pérez, who attributed it to the Los Rastrojos criminal gang and revealed that two rural workers were murdered in the same action, which took place in the department of Nariño.
The aggressors, who were armed and dressed in military attire, identified the two victims and after murdering them, threw their “dismembered bodies into the Patia River,” the ombudsman said in a press release.
“Subsequently, they proceeded to kidnap and transport to the district of Sanchez (Cumbitara) a group of 13 people, including 9 motorboat operators,” according to the report, which identified several of the victims, whose ages range between 18 and 38 years old.
Los Rastrojos is a gang led by former members of extreme-right-wing paramilitary groups linked to drug trafficking.
According to the director of the Colombian police, General Oscar Naranjo, the criminal gangs formed by remnants of the demobilized United Self-Defense Units of Colombia (AUC) are currently the chief threat to the country’s domestic security.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist guerrilla group and the country’s most significant with around 8,000 fighters, also operates in Nariño, according to an estimate by the Defense Ministry.
According to official figures, between January and July of this year there were 193 kidnappings in Colombia, 58 of them attributed to the FARC, 14 to the National Liberation Army (ELN), another guerilla group, and 121 to former paramilitaries and criminals.
In 2010, 282 people were kidnapped in Colombia, 32 percent more than in 2009.