BOGOTA, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Three Colombian soldiers were kidnapped by members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the country's northeast Arauca region, Colombia's military said Thursday.
The kidnapped soldiers' vehicle was intercepted by two armed men on a motorcycle and they were forced out of their vehicle, according to a statement by the military.
The Ombudsman's Office of Colombia, via its Twitter account, demanded the prompt release of the soldiers who were on leave, unarmed and not in uniform. The ombudsman went on to say that the soldiers were in a public vehicle and on their way to the municipality of Tame.
Ricardo Alvarado, governor of Arauca, said the kidnapping was not an isolated case.
"Unfortunately the number of kidnappings in Arauca has increased and the individuals are being taken to the neighboring country of Venezuela because the police on the border and along the Arauca River are accomplices," he said.
For his part, the new Minister of Defense Guillermo Botero said the soldiers were at fault for their own kidnapping.
"From what I understand, it was reckless on the part of the soldiers and the commander who did not follow the established protocol. They know this type of thing can happen," Botero told Blu Radio.
The kidnapping comes a week after the rebels kidnapped four military personnel and two civilians in the country's department of Choco.
The issue of kidnappings was discussed during the last round of peace talks that took place in Havana, but a bilateral cease-fire agreement could not be reached.
During his inauguration speech on Tuesday, Colombia's new President Ivan Duque said his government will assess the unfinished peace process with the ELN.