The leader of a dissident group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) in the southwest of Colombia, Walter Patricio Artízala Vernaza, who is known as "Guacho", is responsible for the kidnapping of the three journalists of the Ecuadorean newspaper El Comercio, the Colombian Army claimed Wednesday.
The commander of the Colombian Military Forces General Alberto Mejia told Colombian RCN Radio that information gathered by his agency’s intelligence has established that the offshoot group was the one holding the journalists hostage, kidnapping them Monday when they crossed the border area with Ecuador.
Mejia said that Guacho’s group “Residual Armed Group Oliver Sinisterra”, which is operating at the border area was “without doubt” the one behind the kidnappings as well as previous attacks on power towers on the Colombian border department of Tumaco.
However, Mejia said that so far Colombian authorities do not have specific information that allows them to confirm, as claimed by Ecuadorean Interior Minister Cesar Navas, that the abducted journalists have been taken to Colombia.
In addition, the military official said he is confident that they will capture or remove Guacho’s group soon.
"We are working one hundred percent at their area of influence, we have had combat battles with them, we have captured and demobilized people from their security ring, which informs us more about the operation of that group,” he told the radio station.
A day earlier Ecuadorean State security forces confirmed the three missing journalists were had been kidnapped by what they call Residual Organized Armed Groups, which according to military intelligence, are criminal gangs formed by former guerrillas who have military training and engage in international drug trafficking.
Meanwhile Journalists held a vigil in Ecuador's capital Quito Tuesday night to demand the freeing of their colleagues, while local and international press organizations demanded their release.