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Guerrillas Kidnap Five Foreigners, Including Three European Diplomats

May 4, 1988

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Leftist guerrillas said Tuesday they had kidnapped five foreigners, including two West German honorary consuls and a French diplomat, officials said.

The other two men seized were Swiss trade officials. Honorary consuls of France and Panama escaped kidnap attempts.

The abductions were claimed by the National Liberation Army and the People’s Liberation Army, which form part of the National Guerrilla Coordinating Organization, an umbrella for the main armed rebel groups in the country.

Sigfried Marketkurt, 59, the West German honorary consul in Bucaramanga, 200 miles from Bogota, was grabbed by four armed guerrillas at his metals company on the outskirts of the city as employees watched, local police said.

Callers claiming to represent the Maoist National Liberation Army later told radio stations the abduction was a ″political act.″ They said he would be freed in three days with a message for the Colombian government.

Hellmuth Lucker, the honorary consul in Medellin, also disappeared Tuesday. Radio stations received calls from the Uraba Camilista Front, part of the National Liberation Army, claiming the kidnapping.

Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city, is 250 miles from the capital.

Callers identifying themselves as another National Liberation Army cell told Bogota radio stations the guerrillas had seized Jean Cristopher Rampal, a public information officer at the French Embassy, who disappeared last weekend.

Two Swiss officials, Wilfred Lerner and Richard Aufdeeregger, were kidnapped Tuesday afternoon by pro-Castro People’s Liberation Army commandos who attacked the office of the Colombia-Swiss Chamber of Commerce and overpowered 10 employees.

In Cali, the country’s third largest city, 190 miles west of Bogota, four people disguised as transit police tried to kidnap the honorary consul of France, Anette Assiga, but police stopped them, said Col. Oscar Eduardo Pelez, the local police commander.

One policeman was killed and another wounded when they stopped the guerrillas from entering the offices of a consular official, Pelez said. The rebels escaped in a small car, which was found later near the scene of the shootout, he said.

The identity of those kidnappers was not immediately learned.

In Cartagena, 400 miles north of Bogota on the Caribbean coast, three members of the National Liberation Army entered the Panamanian consulate, apparently to kidnap Honorary Consul Luisa Victoria de Porras, police said. She escaped and sought help, they said.

Local police said the three guerrillas tried to escape on a motorcycle but two of them were arrested immediately and the third was apprehended at the airport.

In the first two months of 1988 Colombia’s leftist rebels kidnapped 14 mayors, attacked a dozen towns, killed 31 soldiers, 28 police and 80 other people, blew up oil pipelines and electricity cables towers and attacked oil company drilling camps.

When the guerrillas freed the mayors it told them to do more for poor people in their districts.

There are five main leftist guerrilla groups in Colombia.

Update hourly