External Affairs

Colombia: ELN Rebels Release Two Dutch Journalists

People protest against the kidnapping of Dutch journalists Derk Johannes Bolt and Eugenio Ernest Marie in Bogota, Colombia June 21, 2017. The banner reads: “Dutch journalists kidnapped, Liberty Now.” Credit: Reuters/Jaime Saldarriaga

Bogota: Colombia’s Marxist ELN rebel group said on Friday it has freed two Dutch journalists captured this week in the northeast of the Andean country.

The reporters, Derk Johannes Bolt, 62, a television journalist, and Eugenio Ernest Marie Follender, 58, a cameraman, “have been released in perfect conditions,” the group said on Twitter.

Bolt and Follender were seized in El Tarra in Norte de Santander on Monday.

The 2,000-strong ELN frequently kidnaps Colombians and foreigners, many of whom work in oil operations, for ransom and political leverage.

The ELN, the second-largest rebel group after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is in talks with the government to put an end to more than five decades of war.

FARC signed a peace deal last year and is currently demobilizing its guerillas.

More than 220,000 people have been killed in a conflict that pitted the military against the FARC, ELN and right-wing paramilitary armies.

Last year the ELN seized a Spanish journalist, freeing her six days later.