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  • Relatives and friends hold pictures of Ecuadorean journalists who were kidnapped near the Colombian border, during a protest march to demand for their release.

    Relatives and friends hold pictures of Ecuadorean journalists who were kidnapped near the Colombian border, during a protest march to demand for their release. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 April 2018

Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said an official investigation has so far failed to determine the statement's veracity.

A statement allegedly by Frente Olive Sinisterra claiming that the three Ecuadorean journalists kidnapped last month have been killed has yet to be verified, according to Colombia's Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas.

RELATED: 
Ecuador Denies Negotiating With Kidnappers of Three Journalists

The unverified statement circulating on social media from early Wednesday claims Paul Rivas, Javier Ortega and Efrain Segarra, of Ecuador's El Comercio newspaper, have been killed and blames the governments of Colombia and Ecuador for their deaths.

"The Ecuadorean government and Colombian minister did not want to save the lives of the three detained; they did it with the military landing in various points near the place where the men were detained, which resulted in the death of the two journalists and the driver."

Later in the day, the Colombian defense minister said an official investigation has so far failed to determine the statement's veracity.

"Our presence in that border territory, Colombian territory, is of territorial control," Villegas said. "There have been no landings or special actions that are not known and coordinated with Ecuador's armed forces and police authorities."

In an official statement, the Ecuadorean government said it will verify the authenticity of the document's contents, requesting "responsibility and prudence" from the media and public.

Ecuador's Interior Minister Cesar Navas also denied any government operation in Esmeralda: "We deny that part of our armed forces and national police carried out offensive operations in the zone.

"We asked Colombian authorities not to carry out operations that could compromise the integrity of our three kidnapped countrymen."

Journalist Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas and driver Efrain Segarra were kidnapped in Ecuador's northern border in Esmeraldas on March 26 while reporting on a series of violent attacks against Ecuadorean security forces.


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