Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Ecuadorean Journalists Killed by Rebels Near Colombia Border

Ecuadorean Journalists Killed by Rebels Near Colombia Border Ecuadorean Journalists Killed by Rebels Near Colombia Border
Patty Aguilar | 14 April, 2018, 01:40

Shortly after touching down, President Moreno addressed the assembled crowd of media and relatives of the missing three, and gave the captors 12 hours to reveal the location of their hostages.

As Moreno spoke last night, dozens of colleagues and friends of reporter Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas and their driver Efrain Segarra held a candlelit vigil outside the presidential palace as they have nearly every night since their disappearance.

Colombia's RCN network said Thursday that it has handed over to authorities gruesome photos purporting to show the bodies of the three men.

Although forensic experts are still studying the photos, Mr Moreno said there was an "enormous possibility" they are authentic.

"This message is for all Ecuadorians: With deep sorrow, I regret to report that after twelve hours of the established deadline, we have not received proof of life and sadly, we have information confirming the murder of our fellow countrymen", the Ecuadorian president said during massive press conference today in Quito. "We will defeat these criminals".

In the video, the unidentified captors said they would release the hostages if Ecuador stopped helping Colombia fight the insurgents.

Moreno returned home early from a regional summit. In 2016, the government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos hammered out a peace deal with FARC, which transformed into a political party in the following year.

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Ecuadorean and Colombian military officials have both denied the men are being held in their territory.

"We have no confirmation that the Ecuadorean citizens are dead", he said, noting that the photographs are still being examined.

Interior Minister Cesar Navas said earlier this week that the violence in the province, including a auto bomb in January and the killing of four marines on patrol by a nail bomb in March, has escalated because the new Moreno administration had taken the threat of drug trafficking seriously and arrested leading members of the breakaway rebel group.

Moreno also announced the resumption of military operations along the border with Colombia and offered a reward for information leading to the capture of the leader of the group that claimed responsibility for kidnapping and killing the journalists.

Moreno ordered special forces to try to locate the kidnappers who are alleged to be part of a dissident faction from Colombia's FARC rebels led by alias "Guacho", to whom Ecuador and Colombia attribute the escalation of violence in Ecuador's Esmeraldas province.

President Moreno announced plans in March to send 12,000 soldiers and police to the region to combat the gangs.

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