BOGOTA – Colombia’s National Liberation Army, or ELN, released 11 oil workers kidnapped last week in the northeastern province of Arauca, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday.
The captives were handed over shortly before noon Tuesday in a rural area of Arauca, ICRC spokesperson Maria Cristina Rivera told Efe.
She said the workers were received by a delegation including representatives of the Red Cross, Catholic Church and Colombian National Ombud’s office.
All 11 captives are employees of Consorcio Casanare Avanzada, one of the firms building a pipeline for Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol.
Tuesday’s humanitarian operation was carried out at the “direct request of the armed group and the (workers’) families,” the deputy head of the ICRC office in Colombia, Michael Kramer, said.
“We want to reiterate our readiness to continue providing our good offices for the liberation of other people in the power of armed groups,” he said.
The 11 workers were abducted while traveling by bus through the oil-producing area of Arauca, which borders Venezuela.
Ecopetrol commissioned the Bicentenario pipeline to carry oil 960 kilometers from wells in the Eastern Plains region to Caribbean coastal ports.
The ELN, Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla group, has a history of targeting oil infrastructure in Arauca. EFE