BOGOTA: Kidnappings in Colombia have fallen 92 percent since 2000, a “historic” change, the authorities said Tuesday as the government and FARC rebels implement a peace deal meant to end a half-century conflict.
Long considered one of the world’s kidnapping capitals, Colombia registered 188 abductions this year, police general Fernando Murillo said.
That figure came as good news for a country where human rights activists say nearly 33,000 people have been kidnapped since 1970.
Kidnapping has been used as both a tactic of war and a money-making enterprise in Colombia’s messy, multi-sided conflict, which has drawn in government forces, leftist guerrilla groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs.
But the security situation is improving as the government works to implement a landmark peace accord with the largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), after four years of negotiations.
“This is a historic figure stemming from the reduction in this atrocious crime,” Murillo told RCN Radio.
Eighty-eight percent of the kidnappings registered were common crimes, he said. Organized crime was responsible for another 11 percent.
The National Liberation Army (ELN), the other main rebel group, was responsible for just one percent.
Police arrested 524 people on kidnapping charges and freed 57 hostages this year, Murillo said.
The Colombia conflict has killed more than 260,000 people and left more than 60,000 missing. AFP