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Tourists Kidnapped in Colombia

There are two British, four Israelis, a German and one Spaniard in the group. They were hiking in the mountains of Sierra Nevada
Thousand Colombian troopers are searching for them.

Colombia's rebel from the leftist insurgent group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, have been holding eight foreign tourists hostage since Saturday, local official sources reported. According to information available, they were part of a larger group of 16 people who were hiking in the mountains of Sierra Nevada, looking for the ruins of the "Lost City", when intercepted by rebels.

Guerrilla fighters selected eight members of the group, and led them into the mountains. Colombian authorities became aware of kidnapping only one day and a half later, when released tourists managed to report to the police. President Alvaro Uribe reacted quickly and ordered a large scale military operation to rescue hostages.

"The security forces have completely mobilized, including troops and helicopters, to resolve this problem," said Alvaro Uribe, who vowed to hunt down the perpetrators. Observers believe the case may embarrass government’s hard-line policy toward the conflict.

Colombia's Foreign Minister Carolina Barco, in turn, contacted the governments of Spain, United Kingdom, Germany and Israel, in order to keep informed of any actions to be taken. "We are very concerned about these kinds of activities and we wanted to inform those countries involved to let them know that President Uribe is at the head of the operations", said Mrs. Barco. She also explained to the press that local authorities "acted quickly", but regretted that they only became known of the kidnappings almost two days later.

The area were the kidnappings took place is very well known for being a disputed territory between rebels, the Army, paramilitaries and drug traffickers. The police believe rebels took hostages into the snow-capped mountains, where helicopters have little visibility.

Despite the efforts to find the hostages, many warned the government what can happen during search operations. In May of this year, Colombian Special Forces tried to rescue 12 kidnap victims, including a provincial governor and a former defense minister. When the rebels heard the approaching helicopters they executed ten of the hostages.