Negotiations underway for release of newspaper reporters kidnapped near Colombian border
The government says that three reporters from the Quito newspaper El Comercio are alive and well and that talks are underway for their release. The reporters were kidnapped Monday near Mataje, several hundred meters from the Colombian border.
Mataje is the site of a roadside bombing last week that killed three Ecuadorian marines. The government claims that the bombing is the work of drug traffickers working in the region.
According to Interior Minister Minister César Navas, the reporters were abducted inside Ecuadorian territory about a kilometer from Mataje. They were last seen by police at a security checkpoint where they were given a warning about the dangers of traveling in the area.”
Since the March 20 bombing, travel has been restricted in Mataje as hundreds of police and military personnel patrol northern Esmeraldas Province.
“We understand that the journalists have a job to do reporting the news but we tell all of them that this is a dangerous zone,” Navas said.
He added that contact has been made with the alleged kidnappers and that discussions are ongoing. “Because the situation is sensitive, we can provide little information except to say that the reporters are safe and in good health. We are making every effort to obtain their release.”
On Tuesday night, rallies were held in Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil in support of the reporters. In an open letter, 190 journalists are asking that the names of the kidnap victims be released and that the government provide protection for reporters working near the border.