Colombia: China hostages freed for ransom

2012-12-14 11:59
Chinese ambassador to Colombia, Wang Xiao, shaking hands with one of four Chinese workers of an oil company freed in Colombia after being held hostage. (Embassy of China/ AFP)

Chinese ambassador to Colombia, Wang Xiao, shaking hands with one of four Chinese workers of an oil company freed in Colombia after being held hostage. (Embassy of China/ AFP)

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Bogota - The four Chinese oil workers who were held hostage for more than a year and released in November were set free after ransom was paid, ex-president Alvaro Uribe said on Thursday.

"Urgent: There are receipts, proof, that the FARC charged $2 million for the liberation of the Chinese hostages," Uribe wrote in a Twitter message.

The hawkish Uribe, president 2002-2010, did not give further details to back up his claim.

Uribe opposes the policy of President Juan Manuel Santos, who followed him in office, to negotiate a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) guerrillas.

The identity of the kidnappers was never revealed, but officials widely blamed Farc rebels.

No interviews

In an attempt to crack down on kidnappings, Santos earlier warned that any foreign company that paid extortion money or ransom to rescue abducted workers "would leave the country".

The Chinese workers, kidnapped in June 2011, were turned over to representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross by unidentified men dressed in civilian clothes on 22 November.

The ex-hostages worked for Emerald Energy oil company, a British based subsidiary of the Chinese group Sinochem. They quickly left Colombia without talking to reporters.

The Colombian government and the Farc rebels resumed peace talks in Cuba on 5 December amid tension over a government offensive on the guerrillas and a deadline set for agreement.

The talks are the fourth attempt to end a conflict that has lasted almost half a century, left 600 000 dead, 15 000 missing and four million displaced in what is Latin America's longest-running insurgency.

- SAPA

Read more on:    colombia  |  abductions
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