Colombia: No Trace of Three US Citizens Taken Hostage by Rebels

Powell admitted little progress in securing release from FARC's guerrillas

Despite efforts, the 2,000 men operation launched to release three CIA agents kidnapped one month ago by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), gave little result until now. The US State Secretary Colin Powell told recently that they knew very little about the fate of the three men.

"We don't know where they are. We don't know exactly which group of the FARC is holding them. And so, we have not made a great deal of progress in securing their release," said Powell on a congressional hearing last week. Official sources in Washington confirmed that at least eleven rebels were killed since Washington sent 49 Army Officers to assist Colombian troops on the desperate search.

In turn, FARC rebels called the three US citizens "prisoners of war" and warned that rescue operations could endanger their lives. Rebel forces have a tight control of the region where one month ago the plane carrying the alleged CIA agents went down due to weather conditions.

During the congressional hearing Powell congratulated the Government of Alvaro Uribe for his "compromise on fighting terrorism". Uribe's right wing administration has developed strong ties with Washington and has asked several times for military cooperation from USA to fight guerrillas.

"Colombia has paid a price for his compromise. They had suffered several bomb attacks recently. Many have died, but President Uribe is focused and we have to support him", said Powell. However, the hard line policy adopted by Uribe concerns Human Rights organizations around the world. Amnesty International, indeed, said that would ask to the Human Rights Committee at the United Nations for an exhaustive investigation on the new plan to fight rebel groups in Colombia.

Amnesty International believes that Uribe's plans to create a network of civil spies and a "Farmers Army" will bring serious consequences to the human rights of the population. According to this organization, civilians and farmers will be exposed to retaliations from the rebel groups, something that will surely aggravate the conflict.

The statement also warns that Government's policies to challenge the 40 years conflict have increased human rights' violation cases and go against United Nations recommendations.

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru

Photo: FARC's version of Colombia's flag