BOGOTA – Colombia’s ELN guerrilla group announced on Friday the release of two Dutch journalists kidnapped by the rebels last weekend.
“We advise that the two foreigners captured by the ELN in Catatumbo were released in perfect condition,” the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (National Liberation Army) said on Twitter, without offering any details.
Derk Bolt, 52, and his cameraman, 68-year-old Eugenio Follender, were abducted last Saturday in Filogringo, a hamlet in the Catatumbo region of the northeastern province of Norte de Santander.
They had traveled there to find the birth mother of a Colombian girl adopted by a couple in the Netherlands, the Dutch foreign ministry said Tuesday, noting that the two men work for a missing-persons reality television show called “Spoorloos” (Without a Trace).
Though the Colombian government has not confirmed the release of the captives, media outlets reported that the men were freed.
In May 2016, ELN fighters in Filogringo kidnapped Spanish journalist Salud Hernandez, subsequently grabbing several Colombian reporters who came to the area to cover the initial abduction.
Hernandez and the Colombian journalists were released a few days later.
The ELN, currently engaged in exploratory talks with the Colombian government in Ecuador, said Wednesday they would release the Dutch journalists to a humanitarian commission if they determined that one of their units had kidnapped them.
The head of the Colombian government’s delegation to peace talks with the ELN, Juan Camilo Restrepo, denounced the kidnapping and called it a “clumsy” action.
Colombia’s largest insurgency, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is now in the process of demobilizing and handing over its weapons after signing a peace agreement with the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos.