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Florida Mission Officials Say 3 Missionaries Abducted in Panama

February 2, 1993

MIAMI (AP) _ Three American missionaries were snatched from a village in southern Panama by armed Colombian guerrillas and taken across the jungle border, officials at their mission in Florida said Monday.

The members of the New Tribes Mission were abducted Sunday night from the village of Pucuro, said Guy Sier, the mission’s crisis management director.

″We’re not sure they purposely came across the border to get our folks,″ Sier said in a telephone interview from the mission in Sanford, Fla., near Orlando. ″Why they decided to take missionaries is beyond us. We’re usually considered more trouble than we’re worth.″

Sier said he had been in contact with U.S. Embassy officials in Panama City and with the State Department.

A spokeswoman for the State Department said late Monday she had no immediate information on the report. Panamanian officials and U.S. Embassy officials in Panama City also were unable to confirm it immediately.

Sier said the three men were teaching the Bible to members of the Kuna tribe in the most southern part of Panama. The men’s wives, who were unharmed, witnessed the abduction and contacted Panamanian military and U.S. officials, he said.

The area around the village is known as the Darien Gap. It is a region of thick jungle with few roads. There have been reports for several years of drug gangs operating in the area.

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