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September 30 2012 1 30 /09 /September /2012 03:55

Australian, Briton tourists rescued, say Ecuadoran authorities


An Australian woman and a Briton, believed to be tourists, have been kidnapped in Ecuador. Above, workers beside the Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

ECUADORAN authorities say they have rescued two women tourists, one from Britain and another from Australia, who were kidnapped near the Colombian border.

Police and armed forces staff "locate and rescue the two girls, Australian and English, kidnapped in Cuyabeno", Ecuadoran Interior Minister Jose Serrano said on Twitter.


A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that the Australian woman had been rescued and was now being cared for by local authorities.


"The Australian Embassy in Santiago has confirmed that an Australian woman and a British woman who were kidnapped in Ecuador have been released and are currently in the care of Ecuadorian authorities," a DFAT spokesperson said in a statement.


The women were abducted Friday in the region along the border with Colombia, apparently by criminals from that country, Mr Serrano said in a post on Twitter.


Kidnappings are common among Colombian crime gangs.


The women, who were not immediately identified, were abducted while visiting the Cuyabeno nature reserve in the Tarapoa region, in Sucumbios province, officials said.


They were travelling in a canoe as part of a group of seven tourists - five foreigners and two Ecuadorans - and two local Ecuadorans working as guides.


The Environment Ministry had reported the assault on Friday, but said nothing of a kidnapping.


It quoted local people as saying that three members of a Colombian gang of ex-paramilitary fighters known as the Black Eagles was behind the abduction.


Police took the other three tourists Friday to Lago Agrio, the capital of Sucumbios province, the daily El Comercio reported.


DFAT had  earlier said the Australian woman's family was receiving consular assistance.


"Consular officers have been in contact with the woman's family in Australia to alert them to these reports and to offer consular assistance," the spokesperson said in a statement.


"Our travel advice for Ecuador recommends that Australians do not travel to the border area of Sucumbios in north-eastern Ecuador bordering Colombia and Peru as there is a very high threat of violent criminal activity in this area," DFAT said.

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