Los Angeles Times | 12/22/2009 12:00:00 AM
Colombian troops search for abducted politician
Dec 22--Leftist guerrillas are believed to have kidnapped Gov. Luis Francisco Cuellar. The move is seen as a challenge to President Alvaro Uribe, whose crackdown on rebels has greatly reduced violence.
The kidnapping is the first in several years of a politician of Cuellar's stature and a challenge to Uribe's get-tough stance against the rebels, which has produced dramatic declines in violence and kidnappings since he took office in 2002.
Ten assailants, dressed in army uniforms and identified by the government as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, seized Cuellar, 69, in his pajamas inside his residence in Florencia, the state capital. The attackers killed one police guard, wounded two others and exploded a grenade to gain entry.
The governor, who previously was a mayor and congressman, had received threats and asked for more protection, according to his personal secretary, Edilberto Ramón Endo. Cuellar had been kidnapped on four previous occasions, Endo added.
In comments to reporters, Uribe said he had sent Defense Minister Gabriel Silva Lujan, armed forces chief Gen. Freddy Padilla and police commander Oscar Naranjo to supervise the effort to rescue the governor, who on Saturday had appeared with Uribe at a community meeting in Florencia.
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