Photo: Kidnapped tourists
Spanish tourists Maria Concepcion Marlaska Sedano and Angel Sanchez Fernandez, abducted on May 17 in the northern Colombian province of La Guajira, were rescued in the wee hours of Saturday by a National Police anti-kidnapping unit, authorities told Efe.
“The rescue occurred around 12:30 a.m. and at this time we’re on the way to the city of Santa Marta with them,” Col. Elber Velasco Garavito, National Police commander in La Guajira, told Efe by telephone.
The rescue operation was carried out by Gaula, the National Police’s anti-kidnapping squad, with Spanish officials involved in the preparations.
“Two Spanish National Police officers were with us the whole time, very much involved in coordinating everything with Spain,” the colonel added.
Sanchez Fernandez, 49, and Marlaska Sedano, 43, both from the northwestern Spanish city of Aviles, are both in good health, “just a bit dehydrated and very tired,” Velasco said.
“They are very happy. They can’t believe they were rescued,” the colonel said, adding that they would be transferred by plane from Santa Marta to Bogota.
The rescue occurred in a rural area outside the city of Maicao, near the border with Venezuela, and some of the kidnappers - apparently ordinary criminals - were arrested, the colonel said, without indicating how many captors were involved.
He said the raid was carried out very quickly and no gunshots were fired.
Colombian officials were to provide further details of the operation in Bogota later Saturday, while Spain’s National Police force said on Twitter that it arrested two suspects who were allegedly going to arrange collection of a ransom for the Spaniards’ release.
Sanchez Fernandez and Marlaska Sedano were abducted by unknown assailants in La Guajira while traveling by car to the eco-tourism destination of Cabo de la Vela, in Colombia’s far north.
They were rescued in the same area.
On Thursday, some 500 inhabitants of Riohacha, La Guajira’s capital, held a demonstration in the city’s downtown to demand the Spaniards’ release.