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Rebels suspend handover of Ecuador press team's bodies: ICRC

© AFP/File | Renegade Colombian rebels have suspended plans to hand over the bodies of a three-man Ecuadoran journalist team kidnapped and killed on the two countries' border

BOGOTA (AFP) - 

Renegade Colombian rebels suspended plans Monday to hand over the bodies of a three-man Ecuadoran journalist team kidnapped and killed on the two countries' border, the Red Cross said.

On Friday, Ecuador confirmed that the three men -- a journalist, a photographer and their driver who had been kidnapped on March 26 -- had been killed, and began immediate efforts to start locating their bodies with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

But the ICRC said the Oliver Sinisterra Front indicated it was suspending the process over a lack of security guarantees.

"We have taken the unanimous decision to suspend any type of humanitarian activity in relation to the handover of the journalists' bodies," said a statement from the rebel group, which used to be allied to Colombia's now-defunct FARC movement.

In response, the Red Cross said it remained willing to facilitate the handover of the bodies "provided that there is an agreement between the parties and that the necessary security conditions are in place on the ground."

The announcement further complicates a case that has shaken Ecuador, a country unaccustomed to the drug-linked violence that has ravaged neighboring Colombia.

The three deceased men, who worked for Ecuador's influential El Comercio newspaper, were kidnapped while covering a story on violence along the border, prompting both countries to send troops to the border to hunt down the perpetrators, led by Walter Patricio Artizala, better known as "Guacho."

© 2018 AFP