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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 17:47 GMT
Colombia's kidnap culture
A cocaine market in Colombia
Kidnapping and drugs dominate Colombian news

Bishop Jorge Enrique Jimenez, is the latest in a long line of Colombian kidnap victims. More people are kidnapped in Colombia than anywhere else in the world, with about 3,000 kidnappings every year. BBC News Online details some of the most recent.

November 2002: Bishop Jorge Enrique Jimenez

Bishop Jimenez is one of Latin America's most prominent clerics. He is Bishop of Zipaquira and head of the Latin American Episcopal Conference (Celam).

Bishop Jimenez
Bishop Jimenez is the latest kidnap victim.
He was kidnapped by gunmen on 11 November near Bogota.

As well as heading Celam, Bishop Jimenez has served as secretary-general of the Episcopalian conference in Colombia, an overwhelmingly Catholic country.

None of the rebel groups have claimed responsibility for kidnapping Bishop Jimenez but the army has blamed the main leftist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed forces of Colombia (FARC).

February 2002: Ingrid Betancourt

On 23 February 2002, Ingrid Betancourt, a candidate in Colombia's presidential elections was abducted as she travelled into a former rebel safe haven.

Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt
Betancourt is a severe critic of FARC
Mrs Betancourt ignored military advice not to travel to the area.

She had always been a severe critic of the FARC, who were ordered out of the safe haven after former president Andres Pastrana declared the Colombian peace process dead.

There has been confirmation that she is alive but still being held by the rebels.

February 2002: Jorge Gechem Turbay

Colombia's presidential frontrunner speaks in public
Uribe has avoided death three times
Colombian Senator Jorge Gechem Turbay became the fifth member of Colombia's Congress to be kidnapped on 20 February 2002.

He was snatched when the FARC hijacked a domestic airliner, forcing it to land on a stretch of highway in Huila department.

All the other passengers were freed.

June 2001: Hernan Mejia Campuzano

On 28 June Hernan Mejia Campuzano, vice-president of the Colombian Soccer Federation was kidnapped.

The guerrillas released him on 29 June.

July 2001: Former governor and development workers

FARC guerrilla on street patrol
FARC have kidnapped some high profile people
On 16 July, the FARC kidnapped three German development workers in Cauca department, demanding an end to fumigations in the zone

On 15 July, FARC guerrillas in Meta department kidnapped the department's former governor, Alan Jara, while he was traveling in a clearly marked United Nations vehicle.

A FARC statement issued later accuses Jara of paramilitary ties.

September 1999: Commuter airline hijacked

On 8 September, a FARC guerrilla named Arnubio Ramos hijacked a commuter airliner and forced it to land in San Vicente del Caguán in the FARC demilitarised zone.

Government officials insisted the guerrillas turn Ramos over as an indication of their commitment to the peace process.

But the guerrillas refused to release him, claiming Ramos hijacked the plane on his own account and that FARC bore no responsibility.

May 1999: Entire church congregation.

ELN fighters
ELN numbers have dropped over the last decade
On 30 May the ELN abducted an entire church congregation during a service in the city of Cali.

Guerrillas burst into the church and herded 150 worshippers and the priest into trucks.

April 1999: Passengers and crew of an airline

On 12 April ELN fighters hijacked an Avianca Airlines flight bound from Bucaramanga to Bogota.

They forced it to land and kidnapped all passengers and crew.

Some analysts saw the kidnapping as an attempt by the ELN to show strength and gain greater concessions from the government in eventual talks.


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