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Guerrillas Kidnap Five Foreigners

May 4, 1988

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Leftist guerrillas said they kidnapped a French diplomat, two West German honorary consuls and two Swiss trade officials. Honorary consuls of France and Panama escaped kidnap attempts.

In Bonn, a spokesman for the West German Foreign Ministry confirmed today that honorary consuls Sigfried Markert and Helmut Luecker were kidnapped Tuesday and said the government was working with Colombian officials to win their release.

Local police said four armed guerrillas kidnapped Markert, 59, from his metals company in Bucaramanga, 200 miles from Bogota, as employees watched.

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

Luecker, West Germany’s honorary consul in Medellin, also disappeared Tuesday. Radio stations received calls claiming the same rebel group had kidnapped him.

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

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

In Paris, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry said today French officials in Bogota were ″without news″ of Rampal since Friday, but could not confirm he had been kidnapped.

The French spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, did confirm that Annette Exiga, a French consular agent in Cali, escaped a kidnap attempt Tuesday thanks to intervention by police.

Col. Oscar Eduardo Pelez, the police commander in Cali, 190 miles west of Bogota, said one policeman was killed and another wounded when they stopped the guerrillas, who escaped in a small car that was later found nearby, he said. It was not known what group the guerrillas were from.

Two Swiss officials, Wilfred Lerner and Richard Aufdeeregger, were captured Tuesday by pro-Castro People’s Liberation Army commandos who attacked the office of the Colombia-Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Bogota and overpowered 10 workers, police said.

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 tried to flee on a motorcycle, but were apprehended.

In the first two months of this year, Colombia’s leftist rebels kidnapped 14 mayors, attacked a dozen towns, killed 31 soldiers, 28 police and 80 civilians, blew up oil pipelines and electricity 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