UK and Australian tourists kidnapped in Ecuador freed

Ecuador map

Two female tourists kidnapped in the north-eastern Ecuador, near the border with Colombia, have been freed.

Kathryn Sara Cox, 23, who is British, and an Australian woman were seized on Friday by what Ecuadorean authorities said was a Colombian group.

They had been travelling in a canoe while visiting a remote nature reserve in the Amazon jungle.

They were freed by police and armed forces, the country's Interior Minister Jose Serrano said.

There were reports that five other tourists had been attacked in the same area on Friday.

The UK Foreign Office said Ms Cox was found following an intensive search of the area by the police and military.

A spokesman said: "She is now in the care of Ecuadorian and UK officials, and her health and safety is our top priority. We are giving full consular assistance to both her and her family.

"We are grateful to the Ecuadorian authorities for recovering Kathryn and her companion, and are working with them to establish the facts of what happened and who was responsible."

The Australian woman has not been officially named but is aged 32.

A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the women were in the care of Ecuadorean authorities.

The women were abducted while travelling in a canoe as they visited the Cuyabeno nature reserve in the Tarapoa region, in Sucumbios province, officials said.

They were part of a group made up of several foreign tourists and two Ecuadorean guides.

It is not clear which armed group carried out the kidnap, but local reports suggested a criminal gang called the Black Eagles, made up of ex-paramilitaries, might have been behind the abduction.

The incident comes as Colombia's main armed guerrilla group, the Farc, is entering a peace process with the Bogota government after nearly five decades of war against the state.

The FCO currently advises against all travel to the areas immediately bordering Colombia in Carchi province due to criminal activity and organised crime.

More Latin America & Caribbean stories

RSS

Features

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.