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Ecuador president says journalists likely killed

UPDATED: Thu., April 12, 2018, 9:32 p.m.

A relative of journalist Javier Ortega, member of a team of El Comercio employees who were kidnapped on the Ecuador-Colombia border 11 days ago, holds his picture after a Mass in honor of the group in Quito, Ecuador, Thursday, April 5, 2018. (Dolores Ochoa / Associated Press)
A relative of journalist Javier Ortega, member of a team of El Comercio employees who were kidnapped on the Ecuador-Colombia border 11 days ago, holds his picture after a Mass in honor of the group in Quito, Ecuador, Thursday, April 5, 2018. (Dolores Ochoa / Associated Press)

QUITO, Ecuador – Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno says it is highly likely that three press workers kidnapped along the conflictive border were killed and is giving their captors 12 hours to demonstrate they remain alive before he orders a major military operation against them.

Two journalists and a driver from the Ecuadorean newspaper El Comercio were taken hostage three weeks ago by a holdout faction of the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia while investigating a rise in drug-fueled violence along Ecuador’s northern border.

An emotional Moreno said that photos obtained earlier Thursday purporting to show the bodies of the men were still being verified by forensic specialists were likely authentic.

He said the time for restraint was over and that he won’t allow Ecuador to become a haven for transnational drug gangs.

Ecuador is a major transit zone for Colombian-produced cocaine, with small boats carrying the drugs from the South American nation’s Pacific shore to Central America and on to the United States.


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