Ecuadorean Journalists Killed by Rebels Near Colombia Border

Ecuadorean Journalists Killed by Rebels Near Colombia Border

The journalists, reporter Javier Ortega and photographer Paul Rivas, on assignment for the Quito-based daily, were abducted with their driver Efrain Segarra on March 26 in Mataje, a village on Ecuador's northwest border with Colombia.

Ecuador's free speech advocacy group Fundamedios has been sent photographs from Colombia allegedly showing the bodies of the three journalists kidnapped on the border last month, but the images have yet to be officially verified and there is as yet no evidence that the trio has been murdered.

Moreno ordered special forces to try to locate the kidnappers who are alleged to be part of a dissident faction from Colombia's FARC rebels led by alias "Guacho", to whom Ecuador and Colombia attribute the escalation of violence in Ecuador's Esmeraldas province.

"We have information that confirms murder of our compatriots". Colombia and Ecuador have disputed his nationality: Ecuadorean authorities claim he is Colombian, while Colombian authorities claim he is Ecuadorean.

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"We have resumed. military and police operations in the strip of land by the border where they were previously suspended and I am immediately sending in a deployment of elite units from the army and the police", Moreno said.

Moreno on Thursday night rushed back from a regional summit in Peru to deal with a crisis that has shaken Ecuadoreans' long held self-identity as a tiny, peaceful nation insulated from the drug-fueled violence raging across its border.

Meanwhile he announced contacts with worldwide organizations such as the Catholic Church and the global Red Cross in order to "locate and repatriate the bodies" of the abducted Ecuadorians.

"We are torn apart, there are people who've had to seek medical attention to calm down, it's very hard", said Monica Mendoza, a top editor at the century-old newspaper, Ecuador's most-respected and one of its best-selling broadsheets.

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On having arrived in Lima to take part in the 8th Ibero-American Summit, the Colombian Head of State said that he has sent military chiefs and specialists to Ecuador to offer the Colombian intervention to fight armed groups settled down in the Ecuadoran side of the common border.

He said the time for restraint was over and that he won't allow Ecuador to become a haven for transnational drug gangs.

But as his own boss, and without anyone to answer to, the rebel chief could change his mind on a whim, "depending on circumstances", Vinueza explained.

On Thursday, Colombia's RCN network passed on to officials graphic photos purporting to show the men's bodies, which Ecuadorian authorities are analysing.

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