Ecuador says two reporters, driver kidnapped near Colombian border

QUITO (Reuters) - Two journalists and their driver were kidnapped in a troubled area near Ecuador’s border with Colombia, which Quito has said is rife with dissidents of the former FARC guerrilla group, Interior Minister Cesar Navas said on Tuesday.

The three Ecuadoreans working for the leading local newspaper El Comercio, were kidnapped on Monday in the coastal province of Esmeraldas, where there have been several attacks on military and police infrastructure in the last weeks with homemade explosives.

“Three employees of the El Comercio newspaper were kidnapped yesterday,” Navas told journalists. “We have records that the three citizens passed a military checkpoint and received due warnings about the risk of circulating in this area.”

Navas said Ecuadorean authorities were in touch with the presumed kidnappers and that they were working under the assumption that the three hostages were on Colombian soil.

“We’ve been informed that they are well,” he added.

Ecuador has grown increasingly concerned about organized crime trafficking drugs in nearby Colombia. It has boosted military presence in the area and called on Bogota to do the same.

The Colombian government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Additional reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Marguerita Choy