Colombia says 2 more journalists missing

2016-05-24 21:23

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bogota - Two more journalists have gone missing in a lawless region in Colombia where security forces are already carrying out a massive search for a prominent Spanish journalist, President Juan Manuel Santos said on Tuesday.

Santos said two journalists from the right-leaning network RCN are unaccounted for and now also being sought. The two were part of a group of journalists that had traveled to the volatile Catatumbo region to cover the hunt for Salud Hernandez-Mora, a long time correspondent for Spain's El Mundo newspaper whose weekly column in Bogota daily El Tiempo is one of the most read in Colombia.

Authorities were refusing to call Hernandez-Mora's disappearance a kidnapping, though speculation heightened that she could have been taken hostage by the National Liberation Army, or ELN, one of several illegal armed groups and drug traffickers dominant in the mountainous area bordering Venezuela.

Hernandez-Mora, who has lived in Colombia since the 1990s, hadn't been seen or heard from since Saturday, when was spotted arguing with an unidentified man and then hiring a motorcycle to take her to an unknown destination.

Pressure was mounting on Santos, who on Tuesday ordered the head of the police and army to travel to the area to personally oversee the search. An anti-kidnapping unit already was on the ground but communications are poor and security risks high.

Santos has staked presidency on securing a deal to end Colombia's half-century conflict with the ELN and the much-larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. But conservative critics, among them Hernandez-Mora, say that any deal is bound to fall short of expectations so long as vast stretches of rural areas remain ungovernable and effectively under the thumb of heavily armed illegal groups.

Underscoring the challenges Colombia's government faces in asserting control, authorities said that a group of a half-dozen journalists who travelled to Catatumbo to cover the search for Hernandez-Mora were briefly detained Monday at a roadblock and had their equipment seized by an illegal armed group.

It wasn't clear who stopped the group. But journalists from local network Caracol as well as Spanish news agency EFE returned safely on Monday night to the town of El Tarra while the two reporters from RCN had not been in contact with anyone since Monday.

"We know nothing, absolutely nothing," said Claudia Gurisatti, director of RCN's news division.

Hernandez-Mora, who also has Colombian citizenship, is one of the South American nation's most influential journalists. Admired and reviled in equal measure for her opinion columns frequently critical of the Santos government's peace efforts, even her detractors in the government acknowledge her courageous reporting in violent areas where the state has almost no presence.

"Salud in the last five and a half, almost six years, has been a ferocious critic of my government," Santos said at a military ceremony on Monday. "But precisely because she's a person who is critical of my government I've given the instructions to our security forces, our generals and commanders of all the security forces and the police so that don't spare any effort in locating her and returning her to freedom if she is detained against her will."

Read more on:    colombia  |  media

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.