Two Colombia Oil Workers Freed After Abduction

Two Colombia Oil Workers Freed After Abduction

A female engineer at SICIM, a contractor for the company in charge of the Bicentenario pipeline, and her driver were nabbed Sunday by armed men on motorbikes in the Arauca department that borders Venezuela, a police source said. Freed late Monday, both have returned to work.

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Two oil sector workers have been freed in northeast Colombia, a day after they were kidnapped at gunpoint, authorities said today.

A female engineer at SICIM, a contractor for the company in charge of the Bicentenario pipeline, and her driver were nabbed Sunday by armed men on motorbikes in the Arauca department that borders Venezuela, a police source said.

Freed late Monday, both have returned to work.

The engineer said the captors asked her about the pipeline but did not reveal whether they were part of either the FARC or ELN rebel groups operating in the region.

Built by Colombia's Ecopetrol, which is associated with various foreign firms, the Bicentenario pipeline is due to start operations in a year or two and extend for more than 970 kilometers (600 miles).

Rebel groups are increasingly targeting the expanding Colombian oil sector with hostage-takings and acts of sabotage.

Founded in 1964, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is estimated to have some 8,000 fighters and is considered the country's largest rebel group. The ELN guerrilla group, also started in the 1960s, consists of some 2,500 fighters.

Since November 2012, the FARC have been in peace talks with the government in a bid to end Latin America's longest-running insurgency. The ELN has said it is ready to participate in the peace process.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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