BOGOTA – The smaller of Colombia’s two main leftist rebel groups said on Tuesday that it will investigate whether some of its fighters were behind the kidnapping of two Dutch journalists.
“The ELN advises that we are investigating to help resolve the case,” the National Liberation Army (ELN) said on Twitter.
Colombian security forces confirmed Monday that Derk Bolt, 52, and Eugenio Follender, 68, were abducted in the Catatumbo region of the northeastern province of Norte de Santander.
Evidence indicates that the journalists were captured by members of the ELN, the army said in a statement.
Bolt and Follender traveled to Catatumbo to find the birth mother of a Colombian girl adopted by a couple in the Netherlands, the Dutch foreign ministry said Tuesday.
The two men work for a missing-persons reality television show called “Spoorloos” (Without a Trace), the ministry said.
The ELN, currently engaged in exploratory talks with the Colombian government, has a significant presence in Catatumbo, as do several heavily armed criminal gangs.
Colombia’s largest insurgency, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is now in the process of demobilizing and handing over their weapons after signing a peace agreement with the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos.
In May 2016, ELN fighters in Catatumbo kidnapped Spanish journalist Salud Hernandez and subsequently grabbed several Colombian reporters who came to the area to cover the initial abduction.
Hernandez and the Colombian journalists were released a few days later.