June 22, 1995 in Nation/World

2 Americans Shot To Death In Colombia

Associated Press

Two American missionaries who were kidnapped by leftist guerrillas in January 1994 were found shot to death near the site of a clash between rebels and soldiers, the army said Wednesday.

Timothy Van Dyke of Towanda, Pa., and Stephen Welsh of North Platte, Neb., were abducted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the oldest and largest of several rebel groups that have been fighting the government for decades.

Soldiers found their bodies buried in a shallow grave Monday near Medina, 55 miles east of Bogota, the army said. Authorities believe they had been shot in the head that same day.

U.S. Ambassador Myles Frechette said the discovery of the bodies followed a firefight between rebels and soldiers in the mountainous region.

He told foreign reporters that bad weather had delayed removal of the bodies by helicopter until Tuesday. U.S. officials plan autopsies to determine the cause of death.

The missionaries worked for New Tribes Mission of Sanford, Fla. Three other New Tribes missionaries were kidnapped by rebels in January 1993 near the border with Panama.

New Tribes has had no contact with their captors for more than a year and fears they are dead.

Two other Americans, a Canadian and two Italians also are believed being held by guerrillas.

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