UN counter-drug official kidnapped in Colombia: officials

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UN counter-drug official kidnapped in Colombia: officials

Bogota, May 4 (AFP) A UN counter-drug official has been kidnapped in Colombia while on a tour to promote replacing coca with legal crops, the government said today.

The official, who was with the UN Office on Crime and Drugs, was kidnapped yesterday in the southeastern department of Guaviare, officials said.

“We are working with the authorities for his immediate and secure release,” the UN office in Colombia said, without identifying him by name or nationality.

It came just hours before the arrival in Bogota of a delegation of ambassadors to the UN Security Council as part of a mission to support a peace process underway between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Elbio Rosselli, Uruguay’s ambassador to the United Nations and a leader of the delegation, suggested the kidnapping was intended as a signal to the international community.

“There was an intention behind this cowardly act and it simply won’t change the attitude or interest of the UN Security Council in contributing to the process that the Colombians have begun,” he told Blu Radio.

Rafael Pardo, a senior adviser to President Juan Manuel Santos, said he expected the UN official to be freed by noon (1700 GMT).

He said Guaviare “is an area where we understand there is a presence of FARC dissidents who announced they were going to free him at noon today,” Pardo said.

“We hope that he is safe and sound and that they free him soon,” he told Radio Caracol, calling the kidnapping “completely unacceptable.”

The FARC, which signed a peace accord with the government in November, is preparing to transition some 7,000 fighters to civilian life.

However, some FARC dissidents have refused to lay down their arms and still maintain links to drug trafficking.

An estimated 300 of these dissident guerrillas are believed to be active in Guaviare, Kyle Johnson, an analyst with the International Crisis Group, said. (AFP) KJ

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.