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Colombia Working with Panama to Locate Missing Spaniards

January 27, 2006

PANAMA CITY (EFE) – Colombian authorities are collaborating with Panama in investigating the disappearance of two Spaniards in the Darien jungle, Panamanian President Martín Torrijos said.

José Vicente Colastra and his son Sergio have been missing since Jan. 20, when press reports say they were taken captive by armed irregulars.

Colombian paramilitaries, guerrillas, gun smugglers and drug traffickers operate in the Darien, which separates Panama from Colombia.

“Two Spanish citizens have disappeared and we’re verifying it and working with the Colombian authorities on the matter,” Torrijos said in remarks aired on local television.

He added, “we have very good coordination and are receiving every cooperation from the Colombian authorities.”

Representatives of the Panamanian police and Spanish Embassy in Panama have said they have no further information to make public at this time.

On Saturday, Panamanian police reported the disappearances of the two Spaniards who had reportedly been working on a construction project in the Darien for the Tierra Viva Foundation, which promotes sustainable development.

The Panamanian daily La Prensa reported that the Spaniards were part of a group of 19 persons who were working to help refugees in Jaque, on the border with Colombia, and they were captured by an armed squad on Friday night.

“Seventeen (persons) escaped the irregulars by hiding in the jungle. Yesterday (Sunday), in the afternoon, it was reported that the 17 missionaries were returned to the capital,” the paper said.

 

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