BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Two Spanish tourists kidnapped in Colombia were rescued by police Saturday in a rural area near the northeastern border with Venezuela after being held by a criminal gang since mid-May, police Gen. Humberto Guatibonza said.
Colombian and Spanish authorities identified the pair as Maria Concepcion Marlaska Sedano, 43, and Angel Sanchez Fernandez, 49. President Juan Manuel Santos said on his official Twitter account that he talked with both tourists and "offered apologies for what had happened." He gave "all the recognition" to Guatibonza, head of the police department's anti-kidnapping unit, for the successful operation.
Spanish Ambassador Nicolas Martin-Cinto accompanied the two, who both wore Colombian police vests, as they were flown to Bogota Saturday morning. They did not talk with the media upon their arrival, but smiled and gave reporters a "thumb's up" signal as a greeting. Although the pair appeared to be in good health, they were put into ambulances and taken to the police hospital in Bogota for a medical checkup, the general said.
Guatibonza said that no shots were fired and no suspects were detained during the rescue operation. However, two people — a Syrian national and a Spanish citizen — suspected of trying to collect a ransom were captured in Spain, officials in that country said. Their connection to the criminal gang in Colombia was unknown.
Two Spanish officers from the nation's kidnapping unit traveled to Colombia and participated in the release of the pair, Spain's Interior Ministry said in a statement. The kidnapping victims are from the northern Spanish city of Aviles.
Associated Press writer Harold Heckle contributed to this report from Madrid.