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Last Updated: Monday, 14 January 2008, 23:20 GMT
New Farc kidnappings in Colombia
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) fighters (file photo)
The Farc has said 2008 will see an upsurge in guerrilla operations
The authorities in Colombia say left-wing Farc rebels have kidnapped six tourists on a beach in the province of Choco, on Colombia's Pacific coast. One of the tourists is reportedly a Norwegian national and the other five are Colombians.

A navy spokesman said the military was pursuing a group of rebels who robbed 19 tourists before taking six hostage.

The kidnappings come days after the Farc released two high-profile hostages who had been held for over five years.

The group of 19 tourists had arrived by boat at an area called Morromico when they were intercepted by a guerrilla patrol.

All were robbed by the rebels but only six taken hostage.

"A group of armed men, who identified themselves as members of the Farc, fled kidnapping six of the tourists after stealing fuel from the boat, cash and cell phones from the passengers," the navy said in a statement.

Show of strength

The ruling body of the Farc, the Secretariat, announced at the end of last year that 2008 would see an upsurge in guerrilla operations.

The BBC's Jeremy McDermott in Bogota says that the Farc has been put onto the defensive by the US-backed President Alvaro Uribe, who has made the defeat of the guerrillas the cornerstone of his administration.

He adds that the Farc are keen to show that they are anything but a spent force and that this kidnapping may be a sign of things to come.

The Farc continue to hold about 700 people, including more than 40 high-profile hostages.

Among them are three US defence contractors and the French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez earlier angered the Colombian authorities by calling for the international community to stop labelling the Farc "terrorists".

Correspondents say this latest kidnapping will make the chances of that happening very slim.

How the kidnapped tourists were taken

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