Colombia conflict: ELN rebels free Dutch journalists
Two Dutch journalists kidnapped last week by rebels in Colombia have been released after a day of conflicting reports of their fate.
Derk Bolt and Eugenio Follender were handed over to a delegation from the Office of the Colombian Ombudsman, the agency has been confirmed by a tweet.
Rebels from the National Liberation Army (ELN) said they had released them on Friday, but then retracted the announcement.
Concerns have been raised for peace talks between the rebels and the government.
Liberated Dutch journalists flanked by fighters ELNImage copyrightFORUMS OF THE PEOPLE OF COLOMBIA
ELN fighters were heavily armed
However, the Dutch couple were finally transferred to a rural area of the Catatumbo region, near the border with Venezuela.
Dutch Chancellor Bert Koenders welcomed the publication of “very good news”.
Pictures published by the Office of the Ombudsman show that the Dutch are accompanied by the armed and masked combatants of the ELN before being transferred to his delegation.
The Colombian Ombudsman or Colombian Ombudsman is an agency of the national government that protects civil and human rights.
“It was quite heavy”
Television journalist Bolt, 62, and Follender, 58, had started looking for the mother of a Colombian boy adopted in the Netherlands when they were taken.
In an interview by Dutch journalist Edwin Koopman, Bolt told Colombian broadcaster Caracol Radio that the rebels had given him a “very long” document containing points about the peace talks.
People protest against the kidnapping of Dutch journalists Derk Johannes studs and Eugenio Ernest Marie in Bogotá, Colombia.
The protests took place in Colombia this week to demand the release of two Dutch journalists
He and Follender, he said, separate both small cuts and bushes.
They thought they had been stolen during the kidnapping, he said. They were hidden in homes, but one day they were forced to walk for 14 hours to escape the army.
But the rebels were respectful and never threatened with death, he told the radio.
“It was pretty heavy,” he said, “but the people who accompanied us were pretty nice.”
“While our families at home feared for us, we were sitting here drinking coffee with the guerrillas.”
Last year, the ELN kidnapped a Spanish journalist and several Colombians in the same region. All were released later.
The ELN is the second Colombian FARC guerrilla left behind.
FARC signed a peace agreement with the government last November and are preparing to enter civilian life, but that the ELN has initiated peace talks in February this year.