Ecuador reports incursion by Colombian militias

May 30th, 2008 - 10:36 pm ICT by admin  

Quito, May 30 (IANS) Ecuador has alleged that a Colombian paramilitary group has attacked a border town after infiltrating into its territory and taking hostage three Colombians living in the town, EFE news agency reported Friday. Ecuador’s defence ministry said Thursday preliminary investigations revealed that a paramilitary group from Colombia illegally crossed the Ecuadorian border.

According to the residents of San Martin, some uniformed men arrived from Colombia May 26 and remained in the town for more than an hour, during which they detained three Colombians for presumed links with the left-wing insurgent group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The defence ministry statement said that it believed the armed men belonged to some faction of para-militaries that fight the FARC guerrillas in southern Colombia.

The gunmen apparently abducted three Colombian nationals, Aldemar Castillo, Jairo Santander and a 50-year-old man identified only as Javier, the statement said.

Ecuador’s Security Minister Gustavo Larrea told a television channel that his country would repel any incursion by “regular or irregular forces”.

Relatives of the three Colombians kidnapped by the armed group reported the incident to representatives of the UN refugee agency, which provides help for the hundreds of thousands Colombians who fled their country for fear of both the FARC and the militias and found refuge in Ecuador.

A UN spokesman told EFE that the agency had received the complaint and that its representatives would meet an emergency committee made up of civil and military authorities to study the matter.

The report comes at a time when Quito has cut off diplomatic relations with Bogota over the March 1 attack by the Colombian military on a clandestine FARC camp inside Ecuador.

A total of 26 people were killed in the operation, including FARC leader Raul Reyes, Ecuadorian citizen Franklin Aisalla and four Mexican college students.

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