Saturday, April 23, 2016

Attorney Kidnapped in Northern Colombia

BOGOTA – A 25-year-old attorney was kidnapped by unidentified individuals in Norte de Santander, a Colombian province on the border with Venezuela, officials said.

Melisa Trillos was abducted on Wednesday night in the city of Ocaña as she got out of her vehicle at a service station, Norte de Santander Government Secretary Yebrail Haddad said.

The kidnappers drove away with Trillos on the highway that leads to the city of Convencion, Haddad said.

National Police officers and army troops who pursued the kidnappers found the victim’s vehicle “crashed at a remote rest stop,” the official said.

“We are calling on her kidnappers to respect the life and integrity of Melisa Trillos, and we demand her release,” Haddad said, adding that a reward of 100 million pesos (about $34,500) was being offered for information leading to the attorney’s safe return.

Ramon Jose Cabrales Camacho, a Colombian government official, was kidnapped by the National Liberation Army, or ELN, guerrilla group on Sept. 3 in Ocaña and held captive more than six months.

Cabrales Camacho, a 40-year-old business administrator who at the time of his abduction was advising the government of Norte de Santander, was handed over to his family on March 23 in Teorama, a town in that same province, in an operation involving Catholic Church representatives.

The ELN, Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla group, has spent more than two years engaged in fruitless “exploratory” contacts with the government about starting a peace process similar to the one involving the much larger FARC insurgency.

Last weekend, Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas and Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo held a meeting in Ocaña to discuss the security situation in the city and other areas in the strife-torn Catatumbo region.

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