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Colombia20 June 2008

Kidnapped journalist Mario Alfonso Puello released after four months in captivity

Reporters Without Borders today welcomed with relief news of the release of Mario Alfonso Puello, a journalist on Radio Delfín, TV Norte and regional daily La Noticia, who was snatched by the rebel National Liberation Army (ELN) in Guajira department, northern Colombia on 17 February.

ELN guerrillas handed over Mario Alfonso Puello and two other people who had been abducted on the same day to a Red Cross delegation on the outskirts of Riohacha, the departmental capital on the afternoon of 19 June. There were no concerns about their state of health, despite the months spent in captivity. The reasons for their kidnapping remain unknown.

“We are delighted by the release of Mario Alfonso Puello, after being held hostage for four months, and we hope he will soon be able to resume his work as a journalist”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“However the happy outcome to this episode should not make us forget the permanent threat to journalists posed by armed groups present on Colombian territory” it added.

Alfonso Puello, the father of ten children, was abducted after being stopped at a road block near Dibuya on 17 February as he returned home from attending a literacy day.

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