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  • Friends and relatives of the murdered El Comercio staff campaign for peace on the Ecuador-Colombia border, where the couple was kidnapped.

    Friends and relatives of the murdered El Comercio staff campaign for peace on the Ecuador-Colombia border, where the couple was kidnapped. | Photo: EFE

Published 4 July 2018

The remains of Oscar Villacis, 24, and recent university graduate Katty Velasco, 20, were discovered on Tuesday and officially identified by Colombian authorities on Wednesday.

Forensics experts in Colombia have confirmed that two bodies found in Tumaco on the border with Ecuador last week are those of the young couple kidnapped by The Oliver Sinisterra Front in April.

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Ecuador Slams Colombia's Handling Of Murdered El Comercio Staff

The remains of Ecuadorean nationals Oscar Villacis, 24, and recent university graduate Katty Velasco, 20, were discovered on Tuesday and officially identified by Colombian authorities on Wednesday.

The gruesome discovery brings the total number of bodies found in the rural area of Nariño to nine in the last few days alone. 

On June 21, the bodies of three staff from Ecuador's El Comercio newspaper murdered by the same armed group were also found in Tumaco.

Relatives of the couple flew to Pasto early Wednesday to help identify the bodies, which were recovered from a grave in the jungle.

A statement released by the Colombian National Communications Secretariat said: "We sympathize with the pain of the friends and family of Oscar and Katty, whose whereabouts we had struggled to identify.

"We condemn the criminal acts carried out on our northern border and we will not rest until we find those responsible for these reprehensible acts."   

The couple was kidnapped in Esmeraldas on April 16 by the group, which operates along the Colombia-Ecuador border and is headed by Walter Patricio Artizala Vernaza, alias 'El Guacho.'

Days later, the Ecuadorean government published a smartphone video showing the couple being held in a similar way as the three El Comercio staff: with ropes ties around their necks.

Several members of the Oliver Sinisterra Front have been arrested or killed by Colombian authorities, but 'El Guacho' remains at large.  

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