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3 Americans freed, 2 journalists still captive in Colombia

Authorities search for L.A. Times reporter, photographer

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Megan Smaker and Robert Pelton on CNN's NewsNight

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Journalist Robert Pelton and two other Americans were freed by a Colombian paramilitary group and talk about their captivity. (January 24)
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APARTADO, Colombia (CNN) -- Three U.S. nationals kidnapped by a Colombian paramilitary group last week were freed Friday as U.S. and Colombian authorities searched for two journalists kidnapped Wednesday from a remote area.

The group released freelance journalist Robert Pelton, 47, Mark Wedeven, 22, and Megan Smaker, 22, to a Roman Catholic priest and the mayor of a remote village.

Pelton, who was on assignment in Panama for National Geographic Adventure magazine when he and the two others were kidnapped, described the three as "healthy and fine" after their release.

"At first, it was a little tense, of course, but as the days wore on, we realized they were just going to hold onto us until they pulled their men out of the jungle," said Pelton, who became known for his interview of John Walker Lindh after the 21-year-old American was captured with Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan.

Ruth Morris, a British journalist, and U.S. photographer Scott Dalton are shown in these photos from 2002. They  have been held since Wednesday.
Ruth Morris, a British journalist, and U.S. photographer Scott Dalton are shown in these photos from 2002. They have been held since Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a U.S. diplomatic source reported Friday that two more journalists had been taken captive in Colombia. Ruth Morris, a British reporter, and Scott Dalton, a U.S. photographer, both on assignment for the Los Angeles Times, were kidnapped Wednesday in a remote section of northeast Colombia, the source said.

No request for ransom has been received, the source said.

The abductions occurred near Tame, a small town near a stronghold of the National Liberation Army, a leftist rebel group.

The region contains an oil pipeline that rebels have targeted frequently. U.S. Special Forces are in the region training Colombian forces to protect it.


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