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Colombia says ELN rebels holding two Dutch journalists

20 June 2017

Derk Bolt, a television reporter, and Eugenio Follender, a cameraman, were working in the El Tarra region at the weekend.

Follender and Bolt, who has presented the show since 1995, were searching for the mother of a Colombian child adopted in the Netherlands a few years ago for an episode of Spoorloos, which traces lost relatives.

The area where the journalists were taken is also home to many armed groups, but the authorities suspect the Marxist rebel group National Liberation Army (ELN) to be responsible for the kidnapping.

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The leftist guerrilla group, which neither confirmed nor denied any kidnapping, said on Twitter they were looking into the case.

The Public Defence, which is the institution of the local government which protects citizens' rights, called on Twitter for the immediate release of the journalists.

In addition to demanding their safe return, detachments of Colombian special forces units are in the volatile area investigating the disappearances.

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The ELN is involved in peace talks with the Colombian government but these are progressing slowly, NOS said.

Last year, ELN rebels in Norte de Santander abducted Spanish-Colombian journalist Salud Hernandez-Mora as well as two Colombian reporters.

Colombia's larger rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, signed a peace treaty last year to end its 52-year insurgency, and is now disarming its 7,000 fighters.

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Colombia says ELN rebels holding two Dutch journalists