79 Police Officers Taken Hostage During Protest Against Chinese-Owned Oil Company
At least 79 police officers were taken hostage in southern Colombia on Thursday during a violent protest by farmers against a Chinese-owned oil company. The Colombian Oil and Gas Association (ACP) said in a statement that it condemns the acts of violence at the Capella A field, which is part of the Ombu block, adding that it has suffered from blockages in the past 40 days. The unrest began when a group of protestors broke into an oil field owned by Emerald Energy, a subsidiary of Sinochem Group, and set fire to several buildings within the compound.
When the Guardía Guayabero Campesina surrounded the police, the security situation deteriorated, leading to the death of police superintendent Ricardo Monroy after they began to physically assault the officers. The Guardía stole military equipment before rounding up the police as hostages, who were then placed in a truck and taken away. Footage on social media platforms reveals how unarmed officers were loaded into a truck on Thursday and transported away.
On Friday, President Gustavo Petro posted on Twitter that Ivan Velasquez, the Defense Minister, will be spearheading the effort to put an end to the violence in San Jose del Caguan. He took to Twitter to request that the Red Cross aid those who were taken hostage and attributed the violence to “groups that want to destroy this government and plunge Colombia into war.” Sinochem did not reply to several requests for comment.
Velasquez, the Defense Minister, declared from Caqueta that the government will not commence negotiations with the protestors until the captives have been freed. ACP reported that the field has produced 2,000 barrels of oil daily, and since the protests began, it has lost approximately 80,000 barrels. Oscar Medina provided assistance.
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