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Tourists rescued from indigenous villagers in Guatemala

February 1, 2012

GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemalan troops rescued a dozen tourists who were held by inhabitants of indigenous communities in western Guatemala while on a kayaking expedition, the local press said.

The group, which included five people from the United States, a French national and six Guatemalans, were held for 14 hours in a succession of villages in Uspatán, Quiché before being freed by the military, Colonel Rudy Ortíz, a military commander, told Prensa Libre.

The leader of the expedition, Max Ortíz Baldetti, an adventure sports instructor, said the indigenous residents thought members of the group were working for a mining or hydroelectric company looking to invest in the area.

A first group of residents released the tourists, but they were stopped and held by others in nearby communities as they tried to leave, he said. One of the tourists who was filming a documentary on Guatemala’s rivers had his camera gear stolen in the incident, he said.

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