Colombia’s ELN rebels said late Tuesday they had released five employees of a Canadian mining company kidnapped last month.
In a statement published on the www.eln-voces.com website, the ELN said it had freed five Geo Explorer employees — three Colombians and two Peruvians — kidnapped January 18.
They made no mention of a Canadian citizen whom the Colombian army said earlier this month was among those seized by “bandits” from the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) in the north of the country.
So far, authorities have neither confirmed nor denied information about the release, but police said they would carry out a search overnight.
The ELN said the kidnappings were their way of denouncing the “looting” of Colombian land.
The ELN is believed to have some 2,500 fighters, and has carried out previous attacks on oil and mining infrastructure in the area.
It has been at war with the Colombian government since 1964, but is smaller and less well-known than the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which is currently engaged in peace talks with Bogota.