Photos Allegedly Show Bodies of Kidnapped Ecuador Journalists

President Lenin Moreno confirms death of kidnapped journalists

Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno has confirmed the deaths of three press workers kidnapped along the country's conflictive border with Colombia.

Moreno said that he had given the kidnappers until 10:50 a.m. local time Friday to provide proof that journalist Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas and their driver Efrain Segarra, who worked for the local daily, El Comercio, were alive.

"When there is cooperation between the two countries the criminal will always fall", Santos said from the Summit of the Americas in Peru, promising to work closely with Moreno on a military campaign.

"Sadly, we have information confirming the murder of our fellow countrymen", Moreno told reporters in Quito, some of whom broke down in tears, while others exchanged embraces.

Speaking during a press conference with national and worldwide media Friday, Moreno added the state's security operations will resume in the north border and announces the Colombian Defense Minister is in the country to coordinate actions in the northern border.

Fears that the kidnapping had ended in tragedy emerged Thursday when a Colombian TV network said it had received gruesome photos purporting to show the bodies of the three men.

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"We have resumed. military and police operations in the strip of land by the border where they were previously suspended and I am immediately sending in a deployment of elite units from the army and the police", Moreno said.

"It is with deep sorrow that I regret to report that the twelve-hour deadline has passed and that we have no proof of life and unfortunately we have information that confirms the murder of our compatriots", Moreno announced. "We have demanded action by the Colombian government".

The group has no connection with the democratic political party the Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons, also known as FARC, which was formed after the group's demobilization.

Ecuador is a major transit zone for Colombian-produced cocaine, with small boats carrying the drugs from the South American nation's Pacific shore to Central America and on to the United States. Details were not forthcoming.

Interior Minister Cesar Navas said earlier this week that the violence in the province, including a auto bomb in January and the killing of four marines on patrol by a nail bomb in March, has escalated because the new Moreno administration had taken the threat of drug trafficking seriously and arrested leading members of the breakaway rebel group.

The journalists were on assignment in the border area where Ecuadoran security forces have come under a series of deadly attacks blamed on rogue FARC elements involved in drug trafficking. Some observers say 'El Guacho' has been attempting to control the drug trade in the region.

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