Five oil workers from the Tuboscop and Tenioriente oil firms have been kidnapped by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas in the north-eastern Arauca department near the Venezuelan border, officials confirmed on Saturday.
Accordingly, members of the FARC’s “Rogelio Almareles column” abducted the oil workers while they were travelling by car on the road linking Tame with Arauca, a city near the border with Venezuela. The captives, who have been identified as Jorge Ramos, Gerson Espinosa, Méyer Romero, Nelson Acevedo and Pedro Restrepo, are employees for the Tenioriente and Tuboscop oil firms, subcontractors for the United States-based oil company Oxy.
Arauca Governor Luis Eduardo Ataya said government troops were pursuing the kidnappers and that a 50-million-peso ($26,300) reward has been offered for information leading to the capture of the kidnappers. General Rafael Neira, commander of the army’s 18th Brigade, stated that the abduction was carried out by FARC guerrillas. Neira added that another person, kidnapped during the same incident, had already been rescued by his troops.
FARC, established in 1964 as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and Colombian authorities. It is composed by approximately 9,000 combatants and several supporters, mostly in rural areas. Following Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s announcement he would eliminate the FARC presence in his country, the rebel group has suffered severe losses.