Ecuador's President Confirms Death of Kidnapped Journalists

Ecuador deadline looms for news on abducted reporters

Ecuador deadline looms for news on abducted reporters

"This message is for all Ecuadorians: With deep sorrow, I regret to report that after twelve hours of the established deadline, we have not received proof of life and sadly, we have information confirming the murder of our fellow countrymen", the Ecuadorian president said during massive press conference today in Quito.

After the deadline expired, Moreno said that "it has been confirmed that these criminals never had the intention of delivering them safe and sound".

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.

Moreno returned to Ecuador's capital, Quito, late Thursday, after making an early departure from the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru to deal with the situation.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos ordered his country's armed forces to cooperate and help in the operations.

President Lenin Moreno, in an emotional speech, said if the government does not receive word on the team's status "we will move forcefully. not hesitating to punish these human rights violators", the president said.

He said they included the "narco-terrorist alias Guacho" on the list of "Ecuador's most wanted" and offered a reward of US$100,000 for information leading to his capture in Ecuador or Colombia. "I'd return to the family of Javier, Paul and Efrain", Moreno tweeted.

"We have no confirmation that the Ecuadorean citizens are dead", he said, noting that the photographs are still being examined.

She described Ortega as a young, energetic reporter who was up for any assignment. "We have demanded action by the Colombian government".

According to communications that have reached Colombian media and Ecuadorian foundations, their kidnapping and murder has been attributed, and self-claimed, to the group "Oliver Sinisterra" -under investigation- led by a dissident of the FARC that responds to the nickname of "Guacho". In Ecuador, only two journalists have been killed since 1992.

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 being alive.

Moreno announced last month that he was sending 12,000 soldiers and police to combat drug gangs and boost security along the border.

The killings - after what is thought to be the first such abduction of journalists on Ecuadoran soil in three decades - have shaken a country unaccustomed to the cruel violence linked to trafficking that has ravaged Colombia.

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