World

Ecuador's president leaves summit amid hostage crisis

Ecuador's president leaves summit amid hostage crisis

Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno on Friday confirmed that three press workers kidnapped along the conflictive border with Colombia had been killed, opening the door to a military strike against their captors.

"We have no proof of life and unfortunately we have information that confirms the murder of our countrymen", Moreno said during a televised address, CNN reported.

"Despite our best efforts, we've confirmed that these criminals never had the intention of handing them back safe and sound", Moreno said. He promised $100,000 (more than Rs 65 lakh) reward for information on the rebel group's leader, also known as Gaucho, according to The Guardian.

In the video, the unidentified captors said they would release the hostages if Ecuador stopped helping Colombia fight the insurgents.

Moreno immediately ordered resumption of military operations in the area along the border.

Meanwhile he announced contacts with global organizations such as the Catholic Church and the worldwide Red Cross in order to "locate and repatriate the bodies" of the abducted Ecuadorians. "We're not going to let ourselves be intimidated", he said. "Do not stop criticizing", he requested to the media, "we know how to admit our mistakes and all this will allow us to recognize if there have been any".

The two journalists and a driver from the Ecuadorean newspaper El Comercio were taken hostage last month while investigating a rise in drug-fueled violence along Ecuador's northern border.

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The Latest on the kidnapping of Ecuadorean press workers.

At 10.50 local time today (15.50 GMT) expired the deadline given last night by the president of Ecuador for the kidnappers of the news crew to give proof of life of the captives.

Colombia denied any rescue attempt and a day later a photograph appeared - which has not been released - that media has reported shows the bodies of three men.

"When there is cooperation between the two countries the criminal will always fall", Santos said from the Summit of the Americas in Peru, promising to work closely with Moreno on a military campaign. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos dispatched his top military advisers to Quito to assist in the military planning.

Colombia and Ecuador announced a joint operation would be made to bring down the guerrilla group led by "Guacho".

Moreno announced in March that he was boosting security to the region, sending 12,000 soldiers and police to combat drug gangs. "I spoke with Moreno, and I reiterated that he has and will have all of my support, and that of our armed forces and the Colombian people", he tweeted on Thursday night.


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