Escaped Aussies to continue hiking

Despite a narrow escape from leftist Colombian guerrillas, an Australian couple say they plan to continue their hiking holiday.

    Michelle Walkden escaped rebels by wearing wrong kind of shoes

    Australians Mark Tuite and his wife Michelle Walkden were among six people left behind by rebels from Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) - because they were only wearing sandals.

    Another eight who were wearing hiking boots were forced to go with the rebels.

    Tuite told Australian national radio on Tuesday that they planned to carry on.

    "Michelle is probably still thinking about it a bit,” he said, “but  it hasn't really fazed my ambitions to keep going through South America at all.”

    "I mean I can't complain. We've got such an easy end of the bargain."

    Authorities unamused

    Colombian authorities have not been amused by the incident and have laid part of the blame on the foreigners themselves. A major operation involving about 2000 police and troops is underway to find the eight missing tourists.

    The guerrillas are thought to have seized the two Britons, four Israelis, one German and one Spaniard tourist.

    The couple plan to wait in the town of Santa Marta for news of their friends before continuing.

    "It's really important to me at this stage that I see them alive," said Walkden, saying the guerrillas claimed to be soldiers who were there for the tourists' protection.

    "I’m never wearing my hiking boots again," she added.

    SOURCE: AFP


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