Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon has retracted his announcement of the release of nine oil workers, who were kidnapped Tuesday in a department where both the FARC and ELN are active.
Despite reports of their release, confirmed by Pinzon himself, the minister later said the oil employees were still being held by an unspecified group. The workers were kidnapped in Arauca department, in Colombia’s northeast.
InSight Crime Analysis
The conflicting reports on the kidnappings suggest the security forces have made contact with the kidnappers, and that negotations may be currently in progress.
While details have yet to emerge, some reports, apparently without any official confirmation, have suggested the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was reponsible for the kidnapping. The rebel group has previously kidnapped oil workers in the same department, and a study by Colombian think tank Indepaz shows evidence of activity by both the FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the area.
If the FARC were involved, this would raise questions about their recent announcement that they will cease kidnapping civilians. As their details of their pledge appeared intentionally vague, Tuesday’s detainment of oil workers may be a signal of the group’s new boundaries.
However, since at this time no confirmation has emerged, the FARC may not have been responsible. InSight Crime has reported on the resurgence of the ELN in recent years, and, since the group also operates in the area, it could have been responsible.