Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Abducted Colombian football team-mates found dead near border

Ten men who belonged to the same football team were killed execution-style nearly two weeks after being abducted in a crime that Venezuela said could be the work of warring factions in neighbouring Colombia.

Venezuelan troops stepped up security patrols in the area near the Colombian border after the bodies of 10 men, most of them Colombians, were found in multiple spots in western Tachira state, Vice President Ramon Carrizalez said.

The victims were among a group of 12 men who authorities say were kidnapped on October 11 from a field where they were playing football.

Prosecutors said in a statement that victims' relatives reported the abduction of 10 Colombians, a Peruvian and a Venezuelan.

Prosecutors said the kidnappers, described as armed men dressed in black, were thought to have called out the names of the team's members one by one before taking them away in vehicles.

The killings occurred near a porous border where Colombian rebels, paramilitary fighters and drug smugglers are often able to move about with ease.

Venezuelan officials also have struggled in recent years with frequent kidnappings and murders blamed on common criminals in various parts of the country. The motive behind the latest slayings remains unclear.

The single known survivor, 19-year-old Manuel Cortez of Colombia, was shot in the neck, said Orlando Lopez, one of his brothers.

Mr Lopez said his brother didn't know his abductors.

"They had them tied up for 14 days in the sun," Mr Lopez said. "They tied them up to some trees, with chains on their necks and with their hands locked up."

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