A geologist kidnapped in June by Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, was set free Wednesday in the northeastern state of Norte de Santander.
Norte de Santander
Geologist Andres Felipe Calle Valencia was handed over to a humanitarian mission of the Red Cross by members of the ELN, according to Colombia’s Caracol Radio.
Calle was released in the rural area of Playas Lindas, where the Camilo Torres Front of the ELN had been operating.
He was then transferred to Aguchica, a municipality in the southwest of the state, where he received medical attention and contacted his family.
According to Calle’s father, the reasons for his kidnapping are still unknown. Calle’s father praised the efforts of the government, the University of Caldas, where Calle works, and various media campaigns that fought for his son’s release.
The recently released hostage is a contractor from the University of Caldas and was conducting fieldwork on advancing maps for faculty in order to plot landslide threats throughout the mountains of northeastern Colombia.
Kidnapping for ransom is a longstanding revenue stream for the guerrillas, although in this case, no payment has been reported.
The kidnapping may have to do with an ongoing campaign of escalated violence launched by the guerrillas to pressure the government into peace talks.
A previous hostage exchange last summer led to prelimary discussions with the government over a negotiation framework.
But while President Juan Manuel Santos announced that talks with the ELN were pending during his recent presidential campaign, no news of the talks has emerged since.
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