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Belgian tourists in Guatemala 'freed'

Latest update : 2008-03-16

Four Belgian tourists being held by peasant farmers in the Guatemalan jungle have been released, the Belgian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.

Four Belgian tourists kidnapped by a peasant group in Guatemala have been freed and were being taken to the capital Sunday, Belgium's foreign ministry said Sunday.

"We were informed this morning that the four tourists were freed on Saturday," spokesman Francois Delhaye said.

"It seems there was no intervention by police" to release them from their captives, a peasant group calling themselves "Encuentro Campesino" ("Rural Encounter"), demanding the release from jail of one of their leaders.

Their release apparently "came after negotiations," he said.

Delhaye said the four Belgians -- identified as Gabriel Van Huysse,64, Marie Paul Duboise and Eric Stofferis, both 62, and Jenny Belaen,59 -- underwent medical checks at an army camp after they were freed.

He said he believed that their Guatemalan guide Mauricio Dubon and boatsman Leider Estrada had also been released.

The six were seized on Friday while on a trip on the Dulce River about 250 kilometres (150 miles) northeast of the capital, Guatemala City.

Date created : 2008-03-16