Caracol Radio initially reported that the foreigners, employees of an oil or mining company active in the area, were Dutch and Canadian. However, later on the radio station retracted this claim and said the victims were Peruvian and Canadian. This was confirmed by Armed Forces Commander General Alejandro Navas.
“Around 05:00 Friday morning a group of 25 ELN bandits kidnapped five people, a Candadian, two Peruvians and two Colombians,” said Navas in a statement.
According to CBC News, the kidnapped group worked for the Toronto-based Braeval Mining company.
The alleged kidnapping took place in the southern part of the Caribbean Bolivar department.
Military sources said the kidnapping was carried out by members of the ELN’s “Simon Bolivar” Column, which is active in the area.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that authorities had launched an operation to try and rescue the group.
Estamos encima de los secuestradores del Sur de Bolivar. Fuerza Pública ya se movilizó y los tenemos en la mira.
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) January 18, 2013