Rebels kidnap peace marchers
THREE MEN leading a five-day peace march, including a priest, have been taken hostage in war-torn Colombia by armed guerrillas.
The Colombian Armed Revolutionary Forces intercepted the 1,200 marchers about three kilometres outside Caicedo, in north-western province of Antioquia, and kidnapped the priest, a governor and a former Cabinet member.
The guerrillas immediately demanded that a commission, composed of the three hostages, three Catholic bishops and a US humanitarian leader, speak with a rebel chief if they wished to complete the march.
The priest, Fr Carlos Yepes, was subsequently released, but the guerrillas continued to hold the governor and the former Defence Minister hostage, "to discuss some topics at greater length". Guillermo Gaviria, governor of the department of Antioquia, had written on the eve of the march that no concessions should be made for his release, if he were kidnapped.
"The only reason that can mediate for my release, the only one that I would be prepared to accept, is that my captors finally understand the inalienable right to liberty that all human beings have," the governor wrote, adding that if he was killed, "I will be praying for Colombia's peace from heaven."
Dozens of priests have been killed in Colombia in the last four years, including Archbishop Isaias Duarte Cancino of Cali on March 16, and Fr Juan Ramon NiThez on April 6.
Drug traffickers resent their humanitarian and evangelizing work, and their opposition to violence and the drug trade.