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DATE=3/8/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-246363 TITLE=COLOMBIA ASSASSINATION (L ONLY) BYLINE=GEORGE MEEK DATELINE=RIO DE JANEIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: RIGHTIST DEATH SQUADS AND LEFTIST GUERRILLAS IN COLOMBIA BOTH DENY RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ASSASSINATION OF THREE AMERICANS KIDNAPPED ON FEBRUARY 25TH NEAR THE VENEZUELAN BORDER. CORRESPONDENT GEORGE MEEK IN OUR SOUTH AMERICA BUREAU REPORTS THE VICTIMS WERE HELPING INDIANS FIGHT OIL EXPLORATION. TEXT: CALIFORNIA ECOLOGIST TERENCE FREITAS, AMERICAN INDIAN INGRID WASHINAWATOK, AND HAWAIIAN CULTURAL CENTER DIRECTOR LAHEENAE GAY WERE KIDNAPPED WHILE WORKING WITH THE U'WA INDIANS IN NORTHEASTERN COLOMBIA. THEIR BODIES WERE FOUND LAST WEEK ON THE VENEZUELAN SIDE OF THE ARAUCA RIVER. THE U'WA INDIANS, AND COLOMBIAN AND U-S AUTHORITIES, SAY THE SLAYINGS WERE CARRIED OUT BY LEFTIST GUERRILLAS KNOWN AS THE REVOLUTIONARY ARMED FORCES OF COLOMBIA -- FARC. A FARC COMMANDER, RAUL REYES, SAID SUNDAY THE GROUP IS NOT RESPONSIBLE AND IS CONDUCTING AN INVESTIGATION, WHICH WILL BE FINISHED ON WEDNESDAY. // SPANISH ACT FADES UNDER // COMMANDER REYES SAYS FARC REGRETS WHAT HAPPENED AND EXPRESSES ITS CONDOLENCES TO THE U-S GOVERNMENT, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, AND THE FAMILIES OF THE VICTIMS OF THIS DEPLORABLE ACT. COLOMBIA'S SECOND LARGEST REBEL GROUP, THE NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY, HAS ALSO DENIED RESPONSIBILITY. FRIENDS OF ONE OF THE VICTIMS, MR. FREITAS, SAY HE WAS TRAILED BY PRESUMED PARAMILITARIES ON AN EARLIER VISIT TO COLOMBIA AND RECEIVED TELEPHONE DEATH THREATS. THE UMBRELLA ORGANIZATION FOR THE ANTI-GUERRILLA PARAMLITARY GROUPS -- THE UNITED SELF-DEFENSE FORCES OF COLOMBIA -- SENT A LETTER TO THE U'WA DENYING RESPONSIBILTY AND BLAMING FARC. THE U'WA THREATEN COLLECTIVE SUICIDE IF THE COLOMBIAN SUBSIDIARY OF THE U-S FIRM OXIDENTAL PETROLEUM RESUMES OIL DRILLING IN THEIR AREA. THE INDIANS BELIEVE THAT THEIR TERRTITORY IS THE HEART OF THE UNIVERSE AND PETROLEUM IS THEIR BLOOD. (SIGNED) NEB/GM/KL 08-Mar-99 12:14 PM EST (1714 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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