Latest Rash of Kidnappings include Congressman, Merchant, Cattleman
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Armed men abducted a Colombian congressman, a cattleman and a wealthy merchant in separate incidents Wednesday, authorities said.
The three victims brought to 430 the number of people held by kidnappers in Colombia, according to police statistics.
Mario Silgado Romero, a 60-year-old Liberal Party congressman from Sucre state, was abducted Wednesday in the northwestern city of Sincelejo, a police communique said.
About 15 armed men, apparently belonging to a leftist guerrilla group the People’s Liberation Army, stopped the congressman’s car, pulled him from the driver’s seat and forced him into another vehicle, said the communique, read by two national radio networks.
Police said another guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army, kidnapped a cattle rancher, Luis Mantilla, at his ranch near the town of Rio de Oro in northern Cesar state.
In Medellin, unidentified armed men kidnapped a merchant, Mario Ospina, after stopping the car in which he and his wife were traveling, police said. The men forced Ospina into another car and disappeared, their communique said.
It was not known whether leftist guerrillas or common criminals were behind the Ospina abduction.
Earlier this week, a state official for the cattle raisers’ association, known as Fedegan, was kidnapped near Popayan, 223 miles southwest of Bogota.
The abduction of the official, Luis Fernando Caicedo, prompted Fedegan to release a communique stating that 225 ranchers were being held by kidnappers. The communique said that 35 of the kidnappings had occurred in November and December.
Neither Fedegan nor police mentioned whether a ransom was being demanded in exchange for release of the recent victims.
The Medellin cartel has kidnapped at least 20 people, many of them members of Colombia’s richest families, in recent months, according to the secret police. Fedegan did not say whether any of the kidnapped ranchers are among the cartel’s victims.
Earlier this week the cartel issued a communique saying that if police did not release four jailed cartel members by Jan. 13, the traffickers would kill one of their hostages, the son of a presidential adviser.
Police say they have never heard of the four jailed persons mentioned in the communique.
Fedegan said 150 of the 225 kidnapped cattle ranchers are being held by leftist guerrillas. The country’s rebel groups, responsible for scores of abductions in recent years, freq f0224 ----- u f BC-CompositeUpdates 01-10 0049 BC-Composite Updates,
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