Suspected rebels kidnap more than 20 tourists

Thursday, August 22, 2002

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Suspected rebels kidnapped more than two dozen tourists in a national park on the Pacific coast, officials said Wednesday.

As many as 26 people, all of them Colombians, were taken from a beach inside Ensenada Utria park near the town of Bahia Solano, 250 miles northeast of Bogota, according to police in Choco state. The mass kidnapping occurred Monday, a national holiday, when the park was full of tourists, police said. Police only learned of the kidnapping Wednesday because of the area is isolated.

The tourists were taken from the beach and forced to march into the surrounding jungle by some 20 armed guerrillas dressed in camouflage, police said.

Police blamed the kidnapping on the National Liberation Army, or ELN, Colombia's second largest rebel group.

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