Two Dutch journalists kidnapped by Colombia's ELN

Derk Johannes Bolt and Eugenio Ernest Marie Follender captured by Marxist rebel group in northeast Colombia, army says.

    The ELN has been responsible for several high-profile kidnappings in Colombia [File: Efrain Patino/AP]
    The ELN has been responsible for several high-profile kidnappings in Colombia [File: Efrain Patino/AP]

    Two Dutch journalists have been captured by Marxist ELN rebels in a conflict area of northeastern Colombia, the military said.

    The leftist guerrilla group, which neither confirmed nor denied any kidnapping, said on Twitter on Monday that 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.

    Bolt and Follender work for the Dutch TV programme Spoorloos, which traces lost relatives.

    colombia farc eln areas of control influence map infographic

    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.

    The ELN, Colombia's second biggest rebel group, is in peace talks with the government to put an end to more than five decades of war in the Andean nation.

    The biggest rebel movement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), signed a peace accord late last year and is expected to complete disarmament this week.

    More than 220,000 people have been killed in a conflict that pit the military against FARC, ELN and right wing paramilitary armies since it began in 1952.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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