Two soldiers abducted January 21 by Shuar activists protesting a Chinese copper mine in Morona Santiago Province have been released. The group had originally made a number of demands, including the release of Shuar militants held by the government in connection to mine protests.
According to Defense Minister Ricardo Patiño, the soldiers are in good health and will be reunited with their families on Sunday.
Patiño said that those responsible for the kidnappings are subject to arrest and that they are being pursued by law enforcement. “The freedom and dignity of people is non-negotiable and in Ecuador no one is above the law,” he said. “Kidnapping is a serious crime and we are working with the Shuar and Achuar communities to find the criminals.”
It was unclear whether the soldiers were rescued by a military mission or voluntarily released by their captors. According to Patiño, the release was “clean and non-violent.”
The kidnappers never identified themselves, saying only that they were “defenders of the Shuar nation.”
President Rafael Correa has declared a state of emergency in Morona Santiago and stationed several hundred soldiers in the province.