CARACAS -- The bodies of 10 people who had been shot to death were found Saturday in an area of western Venezuela near the border with Colombia at a place where 12 Colombian soccer players were abducted off the field earlier this month.
The discovery of the bodies was reported by the local press in the Venezuelan state of Tachira, after which the director of the CICPC investigative police, Wilmer Flores, said that his subordinates had gone to the crime scene.
"The bodies found in southern Tachira are being investigated to see if they are related to the multiple kidnapping" on Oct. 11, Flores told reporters in reference to the Colombian players on the amateur soccer squad Los Maniceros (The Peanut Vendors).
Flores recalled that on an improvised soccer field in the town of Chururu in the Tachira municipality of Fernandez Feo, some 850 kilometers (528 miles) west of Caracas, a game was being played that day when about 25 heavily armed men suddenly drove up.
"They asked (the referee) for the list of players on the Los Maniceros soccer team - so called because they sold peanuts ("mani" in Spanish) on public transport vehicles. They called out the players' names, lined them up and took them to an unknown destination," Flores said.
For its part, Union Radio in Caracas said that "according to preliminary accounts" the bodies did belong to the people kidnapped on Oct. 11.
The radio station said that the bodies of the abducted vendors were left in different parts of the Uribante municipality in the Montaņa area, on the state line (of Tachira) with the state of Merida.
The Diario Los Andes newspaper in Tachira did not rule out that this was the work of an illegal group recruiting new members by force.
Various irregular organizations including Colombian guerrilla groups, paramilitaries and drug traffickers operate in the border area, a lawless zone characterized by kidnapping and numerous other crimes.