Dissidents of the former guerrilla group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are seeking to hand over eight Venezuelan soldiers that they claim to have kidnapped along the border to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) .
The ICRC said Tuesday that it had received a letter from the dissident group but could not comment further because its work “is governed by the principles of neutrality and confidentiality.”
The letter was published on social media by Venezuela-based NGO FundaREDES, and in it, the group appeals for the “intermediation” of the ICRC to hand the soldiers over to the humanitarian organization.
The group, known as the Martin Villa 10th Front, said it captured the soldiers on April 23 this year in Venezuela’s Apure state.
Venezuelan officials have not spoken on the matter to confirm the information.
Since fighting began on the border between Colombian irregular armed groups and Venezuelan security forces on March 21, 16 soldiers and at least nine rebels have been killed in the military offensive.
According to the United Nations, more than 5,000 migrants fled their homes in the city of La Victoria in Venezuela after the clashes and are now in informal settlements.
Colombian authorities say a dispute over control of drug trafficking between the Venezuelan military and illegal armed groups is behind the violence.
The Martin Villa Front is led by former members of the FARC who refused to join a 2016 peace deal ending the group’s part in the country’s more than 50-year conflict.