Ecuador Gunmen Said Asking Ransom
Dec. 18, 2000
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) _ Kidnappers holding eight foreigners hostage in Ecuador's oil-rich northeast jungle have made a ransom demand and are refusing to negotiate the price, the commander of the air force said Monday.
``The kidnappers are in contact with emissaries for the victims and they do not want to lower at all the amount of ransom they have asked for,'' Air Force Gen. Osvaldo Dominguez told reporters.
He declined to reveal the ransom demand and provided no further details.
Earlier this month, Ecuador's Defense Ministry denied news reports that the kidnappers had demanded $80 million.
The kidnappers, believed to be a criminal gang with primarily Ecuadorean and Colombian members, seized the foreigners in October in a commandeered helicopter from oil camps in Ecuador's El Coca region, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) east of Quito.
Officials from the companies that employ the men were not immediately available for comment.
The kidnap victims include a Chilean, an Argentine and a New Zealander, as well as five Americans. Two French men who also were taken escaped days later.