Colombia rebels free kidnapped pipeline employees

Published August 13, 2012


Colombia's ELN guerrillas on Monday released two pipeline company employees kidnapped last month in the oil-rich northeastern province of Arauca, a source with the International Committee of the Red Cross told Efe.

The two female captives were handed over to a delegation of the ICRC and the Catholic Church in a rural area near Fortul, Arauca, the source said.

Journalist Elida Parra Alfonso and environmental engineer Gina Paola Uribe are in good health and have already been taken back to Saravena, the city where they were abducted on July 25.

The women were delivered to the humanitarian delegation by members of the Eastern War Front of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, which is the smaller of Colombia's two main rebel groups.

Monday's handover brings to 28 the number of captives freed this year in Colombia in operations involving the ICRC, the source said.

The ELN acknowledged on July 30 that it was behind the kidnappings of Parra and Uribe, who were taken from their homes in Saravena.

Parra and Uribe do community outreach work for contractors on the Bicentennial Pipeline, or OBC, which - once completed - will transport crude from oil fields in Arauca to the Caribbean port of CoveƱas.

The OBC is being built by a consortium made up of Colombia's state-owned Ecopetrol and seven multinationals, including Canadian firms Pacific Rubiales Energy and Petrominerales.

In its July 30 message, the ELN vowed to continue "political-military" action against the oil sector.

"Every megaproject of imperialism, multinationals and the oligarchy are and will be a military objective of the ELN, because they only benefit the capitalist system," the rebel group said. EFE