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Commission man goes missing in Colombia

4/27/2005 - Reuters, El Diario, EU Observer

Carlos Ayala SaavedraA European Commission official responsible for development projects at the EU´s Colombia and Ecuador mission has been missing for the past ten days.

The EU's Bogota-based office lost contact with Carlos Ayala-Saavedra around April 17, while he was travelling through the Colombian countryside near Cucuta on the Colombian-Venezuelan border.

The country's second largest rebel-group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), which funds itself through kidnapping, has been active in the region in recent years.

But Mr Ayala-Saavedra's fate remains unknown for the time being.

The 55-year old is a married father of four from Spain and has worked with the European Commission for 15 years.

The Commission's Bogota office is currently working with the Colombian and Spanish authorities to get to the bottom of the case.

"This is the first time we have had to deal with such a situation," European Commission spokeswoman, Francois Le Bail, said.

She indicated that the EU does not usually hire bodyguards for foreign delegation staff and declined to comment if EU oficials have had any contact with Colombian paramilitary organisations in the past.


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