Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | October 20, 2011

Was kidnapping of 10-year-old Psychological Warfare?

On September 29, ten-year-old Nohora Valentina Muñoz was on her way to school with her mother when they were both kidnapped by masked and armed men. The mother was released almost immediately and Nohora Valentina was held captive for 19 days. Last Monday, her captors released her near the Venezuelan border to civilians who, in turn, turned her over to the International Red Cross. Nohora Valentina is the daughter of Jorge Enrique Muñoz, the mayor of Fortul in Arauca region.

Nohora Valentina spoke to reporters outside her home. She said, “I am grateful to those who helped with my release. I am very happy to be here with my mom and dad and my friends.”

From the day she was kidnapped, 1,800 individuals from the Armed Forces carried out at least 10 operations to bring her home. Colombia’s defence minister, Juan Carlos Pinzon, offered a US $52,000 reward for information leading to the girl’s release. The government of Arauca added another US $25,000 to the reward.

It is not yet clear who kidnapped her and whether any ransom or reward was paid—and that is what is strange about this case.

The ELN has blamed the FARC. But the FARC said on its website that it had nothing to do with it. However, the Armed Forces believe the FARC’s 10th Front are responsible. The Armed Forces said the FARC intended to take the minor to Venezuela, but their plans were halted by civilians who informed them.

Lure says the abduction could be part of a psychological warfare effort by military intelligence agencies to influence regional and national opinion to support the war against armed groups. Local elections are now underway in Colombia.

The kidnapping of the 10-year-old girl caused national outrage. Spontaneous demonstrations nationwide demanded her release.

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