Search underway for 4 kidnapped Chinese

07:49, June 10, 2011      

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Colombian security forces on Thursday intensified their search and rescue operations of four Chinese oil workers who were kidnapped by unidentified armed men in the southern province of Caqueta on Wednesday, a senior police official said.

Caqueta's National Police Commander Carlos Vargas said the four Chinese oil workers were believed to have been kidnapped for extortion.

Vargas said that the Omega Joint Task Force, a unit of the Colombian Army dedicated to cases of extortion and kidnapping, has joined the search operations for the four Chinese.

"We believe this, undoubtedly, is a kidnapping for extortion, to pressure the company to make payment of an extortion of economic nature," Vargas told the local Caracol Radio.

Vargas said that investigations so far had revealed that after moving the hostages to a region in Caqueta known as Altos de San Pablo "they had to take off their clothes and were handed black sweatshirts and boots."

The Chinese Embassy in Bogota confirmed four Chinese workers were kidnapped by the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Local television reported that eight FARC militants forced the Chinese out of their vehicle at gunpoint before taking them into the jungles. The driver was released later by the FARC members to inform relevant people of the kidnapping.

The four Chinese, who are working for the Emerald company, an affiliate of China's state-owned Sinochem in Colombia, were snatched at about 2 p.m. local time (1900 GMT) on Wednesday near San Vicente de Caguan city when they were traveling to visit oil wells in the region.

Source: Xinhua
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