BOGOTA – The commanders of the army and National Police are heading to Colombia’s Catatumbo province, where Spanish journalist Salud Hernandez Mora disappeared last weekend and contact was lost with five other reporters, President Juan Manuel Santos said Tuesday.
The five reporters traveled to Catatumbo, located in northeastern Colombia on the border with Venezuela, on Monday to cover Hernandez’s disappearance.
The journalists were seized by armed men in an area where guerrillas have a strong presence, eyewitnesses said.
“I have given instructions to the commander of the army (Gen. Alberto Mejia Ferrero) and the (National) Police director (Gen. Jorge Nieto) to go to the area to reinforce the operation to search for Salud Hernandez and the two reporters (who are still missing),” Santos told the media.
Five reporters, “two from Caracol, one from Agencia EFE and two from RCN,” were listed as missing on Monday night, Santos said.
The EFE reporter to whom the president referred is actually a freelancer working for Procobade, a company that provides video services to Agencia EFE in Colombia.
“The ones from Caracol turned up, the one from Agencia EFE. The two from RCN have still not turned up, we’re searching for them and the authorities are on top of the situation,” the president said.
Procobade, however, told EFE it had not been able to contact its freelance cameraman.
Hernandez, a correspondent for Spain’s El Mundo newspaper and columnist for the Colombian daily El Tiempo, was seen for the last time in El Tarra over the weekend.
The journalist’s whereabouts is unknown since Saturday, when she went missing in Catatumbo.
Guerrilla groups, including the National Liberation Army, or ELN, and the Frente Libardo Mora Toro, a Popular Liberation Army, or EPL, unit, operate around El Tarra.