Bogotá, Colombia, Dec 22, 2003 / 22:00 pm
Five foreign tourists and two Colombians were released on Monday after being held since last September 12 by the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the northern mountains of Santa Marta, Colombia, according to sources with the negotiating commission under the direction of the Catholic Church.
Four Israelis and one British citizen who have also been held by the group are scheduled to be released today. The tourists were visiting an ancient archeological site when they were kidnapped in September by the ELN.
Bishop Héctor Fabio Henao and Fr. Dario Echeverry, who are at the place where the hostages are being released, issued a report last week on the humanitarian crisis facing the indigenous and rural populations, who have been victims of the decades-long armed uprisings in the country.
Two other tourists, one from Germany and one from Spain, who were also kidnapped last September 12, were released by the ELN on November 24, with the logistical help of the International Red Cross.