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Colombia Kidnap Relatives Take Over Church

Relatives of Kidnap Victims Say They Had No Choice but to Take Over Cathedral in Colombia Relatives of people kidnapped by Colombia’s rebels said they had no choice but to take over Bogota’s 17th-century cathedral to try to force the government to renew talks to free their loved ones. More than 25 people including five children walked into the cathedral Tuesday, asked everyone to leave and settled down on the church pews, said Juan Carlos Lecompte, one of the protesters and the husband of a kidnapped presidential candidate. “We will stay as long as necessary,” Lecompte told the Associated Press through a crack in the front doors. Church officials barred access to toilets and bolted the large wooden front doors to stop other relatives from coming in, calling the sit-in an affront to the dignity of the church. Dozens of stern-faced police moved into Bogota’s main plaza outside the church, but did not immediately intervene. The government had no comment. Lecompte is the husband of former Sen. Ingrid Betancourt, who was kidnapped in February 2002 as she campaigned in last year’s presidential elections. The families said they were fed up with hard-line President Alvaro Uribe’s failure to fulfill an election pledge and seek a humanitarian accord with the guerrillas to secure the hostages’ release. Full Story

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