UN Head Condemns Kidnapping Of Colombian Presidential Candidate

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:11 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan Monday condemned Colombian rebels for kidnapping presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, but at the same time he called on all civilians groups in Colombia to halt all attacks against civilians.

Annan said Betancourt's kidnapping by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was a "clear violation" of international humanitarian law.

"Such violent actions undermine the forthcoming elections and intimidate the civilian population," Annan said in a statement.

Annan urgently appealed to the FARC to release Betancourt and her campaign manager, as well as others who have been kidnapped by the group. He also reiterated his call for all parties to "respect international humanitarian law and the lives of civilians by ending all forms of violence against them."

Betancourt was abducted on Saturday when she traveling to San Vicente, about 170 miles south of Bogota, through what insiders said was a former rebel safe haven that has now been reoccupied by the Colombian army.

Reports said she ignored military advice not to travel to that area, which had been under FARC's control for nearly three years. A campaign spokesman told reporters that Betancourt has been taken "by the 15th front of the FARC."

Betancourt has been a severe critic of the FARC. She is also known for pulling publicity stunts.

Colombian Interior Minister Armando Estrada said Monday that security forces were still searching for Betancourt and doing what they could to establish security in the war zone.

"It is good that politicians are doing what they can to draw support for their campaigns and their causes. But it was not necessary to make that trip in those conditions," Estrada told BBC Radio. He urged other presidential candidates not to visit that area for the time being.

Betancourt is running as an independent for president and she is last in public opinion polls.

The presidential election is set for May 26.

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