Colombian Rebels Free Kidnap Victims
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Leftist rebels led by a defrocked Roman Catholic priest on Monday freed 11 people they kidnapped last week to publicize guerrilla attempts to drive foreign oil companies out of Colombia.
The victims were a West German, three Swiss, a Frenchman, a Mexican and five Colombians.
All were in good shape, said a police source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A total of 17 people were kidnapped from May 3-5 by the National Liberation Army, a pro-Cuban guerrilla group.
The rebels released two Colombians last Friday. A West german and three Colombians are still held captive.
Helmut Luecker, the West German honorary consul in Medellin, said in an interview with the Colombian radio chain RCN that he was kidnapped in Medellin on May 3 by men posing as construction workers.
″They had blocked the street with a wooden barrier, and I had to stop my car,″ he said. ″They showed me their guns and said right from the first that it was a political kidnapping and that I had no reason to fear for my life.″
Luecker said he was well treated during his captivity.
He said his captors talked with him about what they said was the need to nationalize foreign oil operations and about right-wing death squads. The death squads have been blamed for killing an estimated 800 people in the last two years.
Luecker was released in Medellin along with two Colombian reporters held with him.
The National Liberation Army said in a communique last week that it kidnapped the people to draw attention to its campaign against foreign oil companies.
The government has exploration and production contracts with more than two dozen foreign oil companies.
Guerrillas of the Liberation Army have attacked oil company camps and repeatedly bombed Colombia’s main oil pipeline.
The guerrilla group is run by a former priest, Manuel Perez of Spain. He joined the rebels 10 years ago and is one of about a dozen Catholic priests who are members of guerrilla groups.
Those freed Monday were Luecker; two Swiss men, Richard Aufderggen, a businessman, and Wilfried Lehner, the leader in Colombia for the religious group Peace on Earth; a Swiss social worker, Irene Nilsson; the press officer for the French Embassy, Jean Christophe Rampal; a reporter for the Mexico City daily Excelsior, Raymundo Riva Palacio, and five Colombian reporters.