Colombian guerrilla deserter helps Ecuadorean hostage escape

Former ELN hostage Orlando Ibarra Thirty-nine-year-old Orlando Ibarra has lived in Colombia for 10 years

Related Stories

An Ecuadorean engineer kidnapped two years ago by Colombian rebels says he managed to escape from captivity thanks to a deserter who led him to safety.

Orlando Ibarra said rebels from the left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN) were preparing to begin a march when one of them approached him and asked if he wanted to go home.

The pair escaped and walked for hours in Colombia's south-western jungle area until getting a mobile phone signal.

Soldiers then came to their rescue.

The deserter, whose name has not been disclosed, will be given a new identity in accordance with Colombia's guerrilla demobilisation plan.

Correspondents say hundreds of Colombian left-wing rebels have deserted in the past, but it is very unusual for them to help hostages escape with them.

"Envoy of God"

Mr Ibarra was seized in August 2010 from his office in the city of Ipiales, near the Ecuadorean border.

He said the rebels from the National Liberation Army made contact with his family and when his father agreed to pay the ransom requested for his release, the rebels killed him.

Mr Ibarra said they kept the money and continue to ask for more.

"They were very greedy. They were not interested in the welfare of the Colombian people or the poor," he told Colombian television.

Mr Ibarra said one of the rebels came to him as the group was set to move to a new area in the jungle and asked: "Brother, would you like to go home?"

He said he thought the rebel might shoot him on the back if he tried to escape, but agreed to go with him.

They walked for four hours in Colombia's Narino region before eventually being rescued by four helicopters and 45 troops.

Orlando Ibarra described the rebel as "an envoy of God".

In Ecuador, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino welcomed the news.

The former hostage's ordeal, he said, "was anguish both for his family and for Ecuador".

Colombia's largest rebel group, the Farc, has agreed to take part in peace talks with the government. The first talks will take place in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, on 8 October.

But the ELN, which is believed to have some 3,000 fighters, has refused to discuss an end to its campaign.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Latin America & Caribbean stories

RSS

Features

  • Children in Africa graphicBaby steps

    Why are more children in Africa living beyond five?


  • Olive oil and olivesFood myth

    Did 1950s Britain get its olive oil from a pharmacy?


  • Rio Ferdinand and David Moyes'Playing to win'

    Memorable quotes from sporting autobiographies BBC Sport


  • Hand washing to contain Ebola in LiberiaEbola virus

    More action is needed to tackle Ebola, say experts


  • shadow of people kissing on grassOutdoor love

    Should the police intervene when people have sex in public?


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.