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Abducted journalists are dead, says Ecuador president

IANS  |  Quito 

Ecuadorian Lenin has said that the three journalists abducted last month near the Colombian border are dead.

"It is with great sadness that I announce the expiration of the established 12-hour deadline," he said at a packed press conference in on Friday, news reported.

"We have not received proof of life and we, unfortunately, have information confirming the death of our fellow countrymen."

Javier Ortega, 32, Paul Rivas, 45 and presenter Efrain Segarra, 60, were kidnapped in the northern border province of while investigating a recent surge of violence in the area.

also announced the resumption of military operations along the border with and offered a reward of $100,000 for information leading to the capture of the that claimed responsibility for kidnapping and killing the journalists.

Though the referred to the suspect only as "narco-terrorist alias Guacho," Colombian daily identified him as Walter Patricio Arizala Vernaza, a 27-year-old Ecuadorian who joined Colombia's FARC group as a teenager.

When the FARC demobilized under a November 2016 peace accord with the Colombian government, Arizala struck out on his own, forming what he called the Oliver Sinisterra Front, named for a guerrilla killed in 2015, Ecuador's newspaper said.

"Despite all our efforts, it was confirmed that these criminals never intended to release (the journalists) alive," said, announcing a series of security measures, including an increase in military and police control over the area.

He also said that he has contacted the and the International Red Cross, among other organisations, for help to "locate and repatriate" the bodies of the abductees.

"We are in mourning," Moreno said. "But we won't be intimidated. Today, more than ever, I ask the country to come together for peace."



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, April 14 2018. 07:48 IST