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Two journalists, driver abducted on Ecuador-Colombia border

March 27, 2018

Two journalists for an Ecuadoran newspaper and their driver were abducted on the border with Colombia in a zone where former Colombian FARC rebels remain active, officials said Tuesday.

The three, all Ecuadoran citizens, were seized early Monday in the village of Mataje, in Esmeraldas province, Ecuadoran Interior Minister Cesar Navas told a news conference.

“We presume they are in Colombia,” he said. “We know they are well. There has been contact. We can’t give more details.”

The area where the abduction happened has seen increased Ecuadoran military activity in a crackdown against armed former FARC insurgents who officials say now work for drug cartels.

A week ago, three Ecuadoran soldiers were killed and 11 were wounded by a bomb as they patrolled Mataje. Other attacks in the Esmeraldas province have wounded 32 soldiers and civilians.

Ecuador’s government sees the attacks as being carried out by FARC dissidents who refused to go along with a peace deal signed by the rebel group and Colombian authorities in 2016.

The governments of Ecuador and Colombia have stepped up cooperation to tackle what they term “transnational crime” across their common border.

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