Home Latin America Ecuador and Colombia hunt for reporters’ killers

Ecuador and Colombia hunt for reporters’ killers


Ecuador and Colombia have stepped up their hunt for members of a breakaway rebel group which killed two Ecuadorean journalists and their driver last week.

Ecuador said it had sent 550 police officers to Mataje, where the journalists were kidnapped on 26 March.

Ecuador's President Lenín Moreno confirmed on Friday that the three had been killed but their bodies have not yet been found.

A group of dissident Farc rebels said it was responsible for the killing.

The group is led by Walter Artízala, who is better know by his alias, Guacho.

Guacho was a member of the left-wing Colombian rebel group, Farc, but split off from it when the Farc signed a peace deal with the Colombian government in 2016.

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Guacho's group, which calls itself the Oliver Sinisterra Front, is estimated to have 70 to 80 members and is active in the Colombia-Ecuador border region.

It is believed to control much of the drug trafficking in the area, which has one of the highest densities of coca plantations in Colombia.

Reporter Javier Ortega, 32, photographer Paúl Rivas, 45, and their 60-year-old driver Efraín Segarra were kidnapped when they were investigating a spike in violence in Mataje, just across the border in Ecuador.

Two weeks after they had been seized, the Oliver Sinisterra Front released a statement saying the three had "died" when the army came close to where they were being held.

Their killing caused outrage in Ecuador, which has been largely untouched by the armed conflict that blighted Colombia for decades.

President Moreno said Guacho had been placed on Ecuador's most wanted list, and offered a $100,000 reward (£70,000) for information leading to his capture.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos said that Guacho would fall "sooner or later".

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