Colombian rebels believed to be holding 3 Dutch journalists

The police statement and a report from the Colombian weekly Semanaattributed the kidnapping to the National Liberation Army, or ELN, a Marxist rebel group involved in a more than 50 year conflict with the Colombian state.

On Monday, the Colombian military released a statement saying the reporters had been taken by ELN rebels, "We have established that members of the Frente Hector of the ELN appear to have kidnapped the journalists".

The government ombudsman's office demanded on Twitter the "immediate liberation of the two Dutch nationals being held", and said it would try to help solve the situation.

"Colombian authorities should do their utmost to locate the journalists and bring them to safety, and all sides in the Colombian civil conflict must respect the internationally recognized status of journalists as civilians".

Presenter Derk Bolt and cameraman Eugenio Follender went missing at the weekend in Catatumbo, an area near the Venezuelan border.

Last week, ELN leaders announced their plans for peace after four months of deliberation with the Colombian government in the Ecuadorean capital Quito. When the BBC asked an ELN spokesman about the kidnappings he responded: "There is nothing to say".

A team from a Dutch television show which tracks down missing people has reportedly been kidnapped in Colombia.

In addition to demanding their safe return, detachments of Colombian special forces units are in the volatile area investigating the disappearances.

Several armed groups operate in the region, including rebel group ELN, which previous year kidnapped a Spanish journalist and several Colombians in the same area.

The ELN is Colombia's last major guerrilla army with about 1,500 troops. They were freed unharmed after about a week in captivity.

  • Salvatore Jensen