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Vow To End Exploration Frees Pair

Sun., Feb. 23, 1997

Kidnappers released an American geologist and a British biologist on Saturday, a week after taking the pair hostage in the Amazon jungle near the Peruvian border.

Mark Thurber and Victor Marley Read had been conducting tests for the Argentine petroleum firm Compania General de Combustibles when they were kidnapped by Indians from the Achuar tribe, news reports said.

The firm promised the Indians that it would halt exploration in the tribe’s territory, Ecuadorean radio reports said. But it reportedly refused to pay the $1 million ransom initially demanded by the Indians, who said they kidnapped the men in the “ecological defense of our territories.”

The firm agreed to pay $1,350 to cover the costs of the kidnapping and release.

The kidnapping took place Feb. 15 in Morona Santiago province, about 100 miles southeast of Quito.

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