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Colombian army rescues two kidnapped tourists

19 June 2020, MVT 15:10
Handout photo released by the Colombian National Army press office of Swiss Daniel Max Guggenheim (C) and Brazilian Jose Ivan Albuquerque (R) -who had been kidnapped three months ago by alleged dissidents of the FARC guerrilla- on a Colombian army helicopter after their release, in Bogota, on June 18, 2020. - Guggenheim and Albuquerque, allegedly kidnapped by the "Columna Movil Dagoberto Ramos", were rescued during a military operation in Cauca department, one of the areas which is most hardly hit by drug-related violence in Colombia. PHOTO: COLOMBIAN NATIONAL ARMY / AFP
19 June 2020, MVT 15:10

Colombia's army said Thursday it had freed a Swiss and a Brazilian kidnapped three months ago by suspected guerrillas.

Daniel Max Guggenheim and Jose Ivan Albuquerque were rescued during a military operation in the southwestern Cauca department, one of the areas most blighted by drug-trafficking violence.

The two men fell into the hands of the "Dagoberto Ramos Mobile Column" in mid-March, the army's anti-kidnapping unit said in a statement.

The guerrillas are among around 2,300 armed dissidents from the former rebel FARC movement who refused to lay down arms during the historic 2016 peace accord that ended a 50-year struggle by the Marxist group.

The unit said it also captured one of the suspected kidnappers, who was guarding the pair when they were rescued.

Guggenheim, who is retired, said in a press conference that he and Albuquerque were kidnapped while visiting the Pacific coast as tourists.

As they were returning to the capital Bogota, they were abducted at gunpoint from a restaurant.

"He told us we'd reached the cemetery," said Guggenheim about their armed assailant.

The kidnappers had originally asked Guggenheim's family for a ransom equivalent to $266,000 before lowering their demands to $1,300.

"They called my daughter once and told her about a sum," he said, without specifying whether the money had ever been paid. "They called three times."

The two men were taken hostage alongside two pet Pomeranian dogs.

In statements, the Swiss and Brazilian governments thanked Colombian authorities for their cooperation and congratulated the armed forces on their success.

Since breaking away from the FARC, disparate dissident groups have continued armed resistance to the government, financing themselves through drug-trafficking and illegal mining.

The more than half-century conflict left nine million people dead, missing or displaced.

Bogota, Colombia | AFP

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