Rebel group releases kidnapped Colombian journalist

Colombian journalist Élida Parra Alonso, who was kidnapped on July 24, 2012, by a local guerrilla group in the northeastern state of Arauca, was released on August 13, 2012, according to news reports. Parra hosts a program for Sarare Estéreo radio station and does community outreach work for Oleoducto Bicentenario, a company constructing an oil pipeline that it says will be the largest in the country, news reports said.

Gina Paola Uribe Villamizar, an engineer for the pipeline, was also abducted that day, according to news reports.

Six days after the women were kidnapped, the National Liberation Army (ELN), a local rebel group, sent a statement to their families, saying it was holding them and that it considered the pipeline a military target, according to news reports. Pipelines have long been targeted by leftist guerrilla groups in Colombia’s armed conflict as a symbol of the alleged exploitation of natural resources and, authorities say, as a means of financial extortion, according to news reports.

On August 2, 2012, the group released a proof-of-life video that showed the women sitting in front of a banner with the group’s insignia, according to news reports. Eleven days later, the women were released to delegates of the International Red Cross, news reports said. It is not known whether a ransom was paid, the reports said.

Parra told The Associated Press that the rebels never fully explained why she had been kidnapped, except to say that it was related to her work at the pipeline.