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American Abducted, Believed Being Held By Colombia Rebels

Gunmen kidnapped a U.S. oil engineer and his pilot at a fishing camp in western Venezuela, U.S. and Venezuelan authorities said Sunday.

National guard Gen. Dagoberto Rodriguez Losada said the kidnappers are thought to be members of the National Liberation Army, one of the two main leftist rebel groups in Colombia, which shares a long mountain and jungle border with Venezuela.

The guerrillas are believed to be holding the two men in Colombia for ransom, authorities said.

The kidnapping occurred Friday at a fishing camp 430 miles west of Caracas and 40 miles from the Colombian border.

The kidnappers apparently showed up at or near the fishing camp Thursday night, a U.S. Embassy spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

When the American and his pilot arrived at the camp, seven armed men forced them back onto their plane, which was flown to Colombia, Rodriguez Losada said.

Detectives of Venezuela’s Technical Judicial Police identified the American as Gerald Schaeffer. The embassy official gave the name as Jerel Duane Shaffer and said the man works for a Texas oil company.

El Universal newspaper identified the pilot as Elias Eduardo Barando and the company the men work for as Oil Productions in Texas.

Neither the hometowns of the abducted men nor the home city of the oil company was known immediately.

 
Tags: kidnap

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