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Colombian guerrillas kidnap Chinese oil workers

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 9 Jun 2011 05:18 GMT
Author: Reuters
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BOGOTA, June 9 (Reuters) - Leftist guerrillas kidnapped three Chinese oil industry workers and their translator in the jungle of southern Colombia, authorities said on Wednesday.

The abducted men worked for Emerald Energy, a subsidiary of Sinochem, China's fourth-largest oil company.

Members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) kidnapped the workers on Tuesday as they drove in a pickup truck near San Vicente de Caguan, Caqueta province, said Edilberto Ramon Endo, a spokesman for the provincial government.

The Colombian driver of the pickup was also seized but later released by the guerrillas, who took the Chinese workers and their translator into the mountains, Endo said.

The translator is apparently a foreigner but authorities did not confirm his nationality.

Sinochem took over London-listed Emerald Energy Plc for ${esc.dollar}878 million in August 2009, seeking access to oil in Colombia, where production is growing at one of the fastest paces in Latin America. It is the region's fourth largest oil producer.

Leftists guerrillas have been fighting the Colombian state since the 1960s, but the country's security situation has improved under a U.S.-backed crackdown launched a decade ago.

Kidnappings, however, have been on the rise recently.

In March, the FARC kidnapped 23 contractors who were doing seismic work for Canadian oil company Talisman Energy <TLM.TO> in a jungle region in eastern Colombia. The men were released hours later when the army pursued the guerrillas. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Paul Simao)

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