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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April, 2003, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Kidnapped Colombian tourists free
Eight people captured on the holiday island of Mucura have been released unharmed, according to Colombian authorities.

Map of Colombia showing Mucura and Cartagena
Police said they were seized by gunmen in speedboats looking for a businessman who was staying on the Caribbean island.

They said the hostages - including an 11-year-old boy - were released when the captors realised their target was not among them.

Correspondents say the Easter weekend kidnapping embarrassed Colombian security officials who had promised citizens they would be safe to travel and enjoy the holiday.

The guarantee was seen as a challenge to the country's 20,000 rebels who are battling government control. The guerrillas responded by launching operations across the country.

The eight victims were captured on Saturday on the island, which lies off the north of Colombia and is part of the San Bernardo archipelago.

They were released in two groups after more than 48 hours.

One report says five of the hostages were dumped on the mainland where they managed to get a lift in a van to the city of Cartagena.

Officials suspect Marxist guerrillas of carrying out the kidnappings.

As well as wanting to destabilise Colombian society, they use ransoms generated by abductions to finance their operations.

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21 Apr 03  |  Americas
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13 Nov 02  |  Americas

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