Driver, the President of Ecuador and marxist Rebels Killed Journalists States

President Lenin Moreno confirms death of kidnapped journalists

Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno says it is highly likely that three press workers kidnapped along the conflictive border were killed and is giving their captors 12 hours to demonstrate they remain alive before he orders a major military operation against them.

As Moreno spoke, dozens of colleagues and friends of reporter Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas and their driver Efrain Segarra gathered in tears in a plaza outside the presidential palace under the slogan "Three Are Missing", the same one that has featured in candlelight vigils held nearly every night since their disappearance.

The three men were kidnapped on March 26 while covering a story on violence along the border with Colombia, where Ecuadoran forces have been battling Colombian guerrillas engaged in drug trafficking.

"Despite all our efforts, it was confirmed that these criminals never meant to release (the journalists) alive", Moreno said, announcing a series of security measures, including an increase in military and police control over the area.

Bogota also sent troops into the dense jungle border zone where the remnants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group operate - a key point on the trade route for drugs destined for Central America or the United States.

Meanwhile he announced contacts with global organizations such as the Catholic Church and the worldwide Red Cross in order to "locate and repatriate the bodies" of the abducted Ecuadorians. On Thursday a Colombian TV network said it obtained gruesome photos purporting to show the bodies of the three men.

More than a thousand FARC fighters refused to demobilize under the accord with Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos and continued drug trafficking across the nation.

Colombia's government had refused to confirm the victims were held in Colombia, while Ecuador's government said the proof was in a video sent by the guerrillas earlier this month, which mentioned a "return to Ecuador".

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"The people forgive when mistakes are made, but not when it is being lied to, we will not lie to the Ecuadorian people", he added.

She described Ortega as a young, energetic reporter who was up for any assignment.

Colombia denied any rescue attempt and a day later a photograph appeared - which has not been released - that media has reported shows the bodies of three men.

The Interamerican Commission of Human Rights demanded on Thursday that both Colombia and Ecuador "guarantee the life and integrity" of the kidnapped victims and journalists in general. In Ecuador, only two journalists have been killed since 1992.

"The clock starts clicking right now", he said, in remarks at Quito airport as he cut short a visit to a Lima for the Americas Summit which was to begin on Friday.

Though the president referred to the suspect only as "narco-terrorist alias Guacho", Colombian daily El Tiempo identified him as Walter Patricio Arizala Vernaza, a 27-year-old Ecuadorian who joined Colombia's FARC rebel group as a teenager. The group is believed responsible for a string of recently deadly attacks in northern Ecuador against military targets.

Moreno announced in March that he was boosting security to the region, sending 12,000 soldiers and police to combat drug gangs.

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