Colombia: CELAM President and Priest Rescued

Military Operation Ends 4-Day Search

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The Colombian Army announced the rescue of Bishop Jorge Enrique Jiménez, president of the Latin American council of bishops, CELAM, and parish priest Fr. Desiderio Orjuela.

The release was effected by a military operation in the Rionegro Valley near Topaipi, 92 miles north of the Colombian capital, Bogotá.

According to military sources, troops led by General Reinaldo Castellanos, Commander of the Army’s 5th Division, surrounded the place where the clerics were being held captive.

It seems that the group holding the bishop and priest consisted of four men and two women, who fled and left riffles and service material behind. Bishop Jiménez and Fr. Orjuela were then flown by helicopter, safe but exhausted, to Bogotá, Defense Minister Martha Lucía Ramírez reported.

The two were kidnapped on Monday by two armed men who intercepted their vehicle en route to the settlement of San Antonio de Aguilera for a Confirmation ceremony.

The kidnappers, dressed as civilians, stopped the car and forced the two clerics into the forest.

On Monday, a rescue operation was launched with over 1,000 troops, accompanied by air support and mounted police, which covered about a dozen municipalities of the northern area of Cundinamarca, the state where Bogotá is located.

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