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Bodies found in Colombia are journalists from Ecuador

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Colombian Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez stands outside an office of the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences after the identification of slain Ecuadorean El Comercio journalist Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas, and driver Efrain Segarra, in Cali, Colombia on June 25, 2018. The three bodies recently found in the jungle of Colombia were confirmed to belong to Ecuadorean newspaper El Comercio group killed in captivity by dissidents of the former FARC guerrillas. / AFP PHOTO / Luis ROBAYO

Colombian prosecutors said Monday that bodies found in a border jungle area were those of three Ecuadoran journalists who were killed after being held hostage.

The bodies, found on Thursday, were those of reporter Javier Ortega, 32, photographer Paul Rivas, 45, and their driver Efrain Segarra 60. The trio was abducted on March 26.

The bodies “will be handed over to Ecuadoran authorities who already have arranged the air transport from Cali,” a Colombian government statement said.

The trio, who worked for Ecuador’s influential El Comercio newspaper, were kidnapped while covering a story on violence along the remote border, prompting both countries to send troops to hunt down the perpetrators.

Authorities blame the kidnapping on a gang led by Walter Patricio Artizala, better known as “Guacho,” a former Colombian guerrilla with the now-defunct FARC.

Ecuador’s northeastern border region is covered with dense jungle and crisscrossed by rivers leading into the Pacific, has become a paradise for drug traffickers.

The case has strained ties between Ecuador and Colombia.

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said the bodies would be returned on Wednesday afternoon on an Ecuadoran air force flight.

There was no immediate identification of a fourth body found in the same grave.


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