Colombia’s Roman Catholic Church said on Tuesday it accepted a government request to try to persuade leftist ELN rebels to free seven foreign tourists they kidnapped from a jungle ruin. The National Liberation Army, a Marxist group known as ELN and once led by radical Catholic priests, is holding four Israelis, a Briton, a Spaniard and a German. The backpackers were kidnapped on Sept. 12 in the Sierra Nevada mountains near the ancient Indian “Lost City” in northern Colombia. The ELN, which has been fighting the state for 39 years, on Monday claimed responsibility for seizing the foreigners. The rebels said they abducted the young backpackers to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the military coup that overthrew socialist Chilean President Salvador Allende. The ELN, which kidnaps hundreds of people a year for ransom, made no financial demands and said it wanted a “peaceful solution” to the kidnapping. Full Story
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