Ecuador's President Confirms Death of Kidnapped Journalists

  • Ecuador's President Confirms Death of Kidnapped Journalists

Ecuador's President Confirms Death of Kidnapped Journalists

He said their captors have 12 hours to demonstrate otherwise before a major military strike will be launched against them.

On Thursday a Colombian TV network said it obtained gruesome photos purporting to show the bodies of the three men.

"Tragically, we have information which confirms the murder of our countrymen", said the president at a press conference, after an emergency meeting of the national public security council.

"The clock starts clicking right now", he said, in remarks at Quito airport as he cut short a visit to a Lima for the Americas Summit which was to begin on Friday.

As Moreno spoke last night, dozens of colleagues and friends of reporter Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas and their driver Efrain Segarra held a candlelit vigil outside the presidential palace as they have nearly every night since their disappearance.

The killing of journalists is rare in Ecuador which has seen the local press report on the Colombian civil war for decades but have rarely been targeted by the rebels.

"We will act with all our determination appropriate in this case".

"It appears that criminals never wanted to hand them back safe and sound, it's very likely. that the only thing they wanted was to gain time", Morales said of the kidnappers, guerrillas formerly affiliated with Colombia's now-disbanded FARC rebels.

Two journalists and a driver from the Ecuadorean newspaper El Comercio were taken hostage three weeks ago by a holdout faction of the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia while investigating a rise in drug-fueled violence along Ecuador's northern border.

Authorities had received a photograph of the allegedly dead victims on Thursday, but the government would not confirm their death until the deadline for a proof of life expired.

On April 3, Colombia's RCN television aired a 23-second video showing the trio wearing chains with locks around their necks, the first proof of life.

One of the hostages appealed to Moreno to help secure their release.

Moreno ordered special forces to try to locate the kidnappers who are alleged to be part of a dissident faction from Colombia's FARC rebels led by alias "Guacho", to whom Ecuador and Colombia attribute the escalation of violence in Ecuador's Esmeraldas province.

A 2016 pact between the Colombian government and the FARC ended half a century of armed conflict, saw 7,000 rebels disarmed and the ex-rebels transform into a political party.

"We have demanded action by the Colombian government".

However, some 1,100 guerrillas broke away from the agreement, primarily to pursue drug trafficking and illegal mining, according to the Colombian government and independent research centers.