A local indigenous community in Western Colombia liberated soldiers it had kept imprisoned in a rural area of the country, the Ombudsman’s Office of Colombia said Wednesday.
According to the army, the soldiers were captured while patrolling and demining the area where the National Liberation Army (ELN) was active.
After the military announced that the soldiers had been taken captive, human rights defenders, army, and local authorities’ officials were sent to the area.
“With the mediation of Colombia’s Ombudsman, the nine soldiers kept in the custody by El-Consuelo indigenous guard in the rural area of Carmen de Atrato in Choco were handed over to the humanitarian mission.
“Their arms and belongings were also returned,’’ the Ombudsman’s Office said on Twitter.
As the El-Consuelo community head said, the soldiers were hiding in banana trees and firing when they were captured.
Since 1964 Colombia has been witnessing the low-intensity armed conflict between the government and other groups, including the ELN, a radical left-wing armed group, for increasing influence on the country’s territory.
The Colombian government, the European Union, and the U.S. designated ELN as a terrorist group.
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