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Saturday, March 25, 2017
Colombia: Church to mediate with tourist kidnappers
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 The Archbishop of Medellín, Mgr Alberto Giraldo, and Fr Darío Echeverry have begun mediating with the guerrillas that kidnapped a group of tourists on 12 September. On Friday they met Francisco Galán and Felipe Torres, two members of the ELN (National Liberation Army), who are being detained at the maximum security prison of Itagüí, in the north-eastern Colombian province of Antioquia. The visit was organised after the Bogotá government called on the Colombian Catholic Church to help mediate with the guerrillas for the liberation of seven tourists abducted by the ELN on September 12. The Bishop said: "We will soon organise a Church commission that will move to the mountain zone of the Sierra Nevada to explore the paths that will lead to the liberation of the seven foreign tourists." Eight tourists were abducted on their way to one of the nation's most important archaeological sites, the legendary 'Ciudad perdida', built by the Tayrona Indios and burned down by Spanish colonisers, then rediscovered by archaeologist in the 70's. British student, Matthew Scott, 19, managed to escape after 12 days of captivity, after he leapt into a ravine and trekked through the jungle to an Indian village. The rest of the party is still missing. They are: four Israelis: Beni Daniel, 26; Orpaz Ohayon, 22; Ido Yosef Guy, 26; Erez Altawil), 25; a British citizen, Mark Henderson, 31; a Spaniard, Asier Huegun Echeverria, 29; and a German, Reinhel Welgel. Galán and Torres, already met last Wednesday with the high presidential peace commissioner, Luis Carlos Restrepo. He had offered them their freedom in exchange for information leading to the release of the hostages, but the talks failed. Commentators hope the intervention of the Church may bring fresh impetus to the situation. Around 2,000 men are searching for the kidnapped tourists. Source: MISNA
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