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Colombia says ELN rebels detained two Dutch journalists

June 20, 2017

Two Dutch journalists were detained by suspected National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels in northern Colombia, authorities said Monday.

The leftist guerrilla group, which neither confirmed nor denied any kidnapping, said on Twitter they were looking into the case.

“This morning, reporter Derk Johannes Bolt, 62, and his cameraman Eugenio Ernest Marie Follender, 58, both Dutch nationals, were stopped” in El Tarra, Norte de Santander, by presumed ELN rebels, police said in a statement.

In May 2016 in the same El Tarra region ELN rebels kidnapped a Colombian-Spanish journalist and two Colombian TV reporters. The reporters were handed over days later to intermediaries.

The government ombudsman’s office via Twitter demanded the “immediate liberation of the two Dutch nationals being held,” and said it will try to help solve the situation.

Meanwhile police specialists in kidnapping and extortion headed to the region in an attempt secure the release of the two men.

President Juan Manuel Santos and the ELN started a peace dialogue in Quito in February, seeking to end more than five decades of fighting.

The country’s most numerous rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is scheduled to complete its disarmament by June 27.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.