Colombia says Rebels to Release Peru Mine Workers on Friday

Two Peruvian mine workers kidnapped last month by Colombian rebels are expected to be released this Friday, Colombian General Sergio Mantilla said.

Mantilla said that there is an “agreement in principle” between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army, ELN, thanks to mediation from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“The protocol with the ICIR is ready and we will suspend the [military] operations to facilitate the release of the abductees,” Mantilla said, according to a report by Peruvian daily El Comercio.

In January, the ELN kidnapped the Peruvian workers, along with a Canadian and Colombian colleagues from the Toronto-based mining firm Braeval Mining Corp.

The ELN released a statement this week saying that it would release the workers. However, as of Wednesday, Peruvian diplomats in Colombia said they had not received confirmation of their release.

Mantilla said that the guerrillas decided to free the workers because of increased pressure from the military. “It isn’t a humanitarian gesture, because they can’t keep them anymore,” the general said.

Colombia’s government has been holding peace talks with the country’s largest and longest-established rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, in an attempt to bring to an end a civil war that has raged in the Andean country during the past five decades.

The ELN’s kidnapping of the mine workers has been seen as an attempt by the smaller guerrilla group to boost its profile in order to be invited to the peace negotiations.

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