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Rebels kidnap 8 tourists in Colombia
Updated: 2004-12-26 17:07

Rebels have abducted at least eight Colombian tourists celebrating Christmas at a lakeside spa in the northwest, officials said Saturday.

Fighters of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, raided a cluster of bungalows late Friday near San Rafael, 140 miles northwest of Bogota, and herded between 8 to 10 vacationers into vehicles, Jorge Mejia, deputy governor of Antioquia state, told The Associated Press.

"Unfortunately, witnesses did not report the kidnapping to authorities until late today, so the guerrillas have had plenty of time to reach their hideouts deep in the mountains," Mejia said.

He said army troops and police supported by helicopters are searching the region.

The abduction came despite the deployment of tens of thousands of security forces to safeguard highways and popular tourist spots during the busy holiday season.

A security crackdown ordered by President Alvaro Uribe has sharply reduced the number of kidnappings and killings in the past two years, making Colombians feel it was safe to venture into what used to be effectively no-go areas.

The FARC kidnaps hundreds of people every year, mainly for ransom, to help fund its 40-year-old war to topple the government and establish a Marxist state in Colombia. The conflict kills more than 3,000 people every year.

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