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Colombia: Annan condemns abduction of former governor from UN vehicle

Colombia: Annan condemns abduction of former governor from UN vehicle

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today denounced the abduction by rebel Colombian forces of a former state governor who had been taken from a United Nations vehicle after visiting a village near the site of peace talks between the Government and the rebels.

According to a statement issued in New York by Mr. Annan's spokesman, armed individuals who identified themselves as belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) seized Alan Jara Urzola, former Governor of the Department of Meta, while he was riding in an official UN vehicle with the UN Resident Coordinator.

"The Secretary-General strongly deplores the abduction of Mr. Jara and extends his deepest sympathies to his family," said his spokesman, Fred Eckhard. "He protests the forceful entry into a United Nations vehicle and demands that the FARC release Mr. Jara immediately. The Secretary-General underlines that this type of violation of UN personnel and its vehicles jeopardizes the ability of the Organization to carry out its duties in Colombia."

The former Governor, along with UN personnel, were present at a ceremony marking the inauguration of the bridge of Reconciliation in the village of Lejanías, in Meta, near the Demilitarized Zone established for peace talks between the Colombian Government and FARC. The UN vehicle was clearly identified with diplomatic plates, Mr. Eckhard added.