(AFP) Colombia’s ELN guerrilla group said Monday they were still holding a Canadian engineer after releasing five other captured mining company employees last week.
“Canadian engineer Jernoc Wobert, 47, continues to be detained by guerrillas of the National Liberation Army in the San Lucas mountain range,” an ELN unit, the Dario Ramirez Castro Front, said in a statement on the group’s website.
The statement, which was dated Friday and titled “The Canadian stays,” gave no reason for keeping Wobert, who was taken captive January 18 at a mining camp in northern Colombia belonging to the Geo Explorers mining company.
Five other people captured at the same time — two Peruvians and three Colombians — were handed over to representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday.
The ELN statement claimed that the concessions Geo Explorers was working had originally been given to local independent miners but were taken from them as a result of corruption.
The ELN, the country’s second largest guerrilla group with about 2,500 fighters, is also holding two German brothers who were taken captive near the border with Venezuela.
The government of President Juan Manuel Santos is holding peace talks with the country’s largest leftist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, but so far has rebuffed ELN overtures for talks.