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Ecuadorian government gets ‘proof of life’ video of kidnapped couple

FILE PHOTO: Colombian photographers leave the cameras on the floor in front of the Ecuadorean embassy to protest against the murder of journalist Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas and their driver Efrain Segarra in Bogota

Colombian photographers leave the cameras on the floor in front of the Ecuadorean embassy to protest against the murder of journalist Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas and their driver Efrain Segarra in Bogota, Colombia April 16, 2018. Picture taken April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga

QUITO (Reuters) – A group of Colombian rebels active on the Ecuadorian border has sent a “proof of life” video of a kidnapped couple, the Ecuadorian government said on Tuesday, the second kidnapping by the group this month.

Two journalists and their driver were killed while being held by the group, made up of former fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group who refused to demobilize under a 2016 peace deal.

In the video, the couple, tied at the neck and hands, ask Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno to comply with their captors’ demands so they do not meet the same fate as the journalists.

Via a communication channel with Guacho we have received information … about a new kidnapping of two citizens,” Interior Minister Cesar Navas told journalists, referring to the alias used by Walter Artizala, the leader of the group.

“A proof of life video of a couple, whose names and nationality are unknown, arrived via this channel,” Navas said.

Navas said the group is demanding the release of captured members of the group, some of whom were detained in raids over the weekend. Ecuador is offering a $100,000 reward for information about Artizala and is conducting joint military operations with Colombia in the border area.

“They are cowards because they use human shields to blackmail the Ecuadorean people. They want to steal the peace we’ve had, but we won’t allow it,” said Navas.

On Monday President Moreno gave the group 10 days to surrender.

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(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

 

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