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Colombian Investigators Say Tourist Was Abducted Before Being Killed - 2001-10-31

Colombian investigators say they have resolved the mystery surrounding a slain British tourist. Authorities way he was abducted by leftist rebels the night before his death.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jeremy Parks had been backpacking in Colombia for six weeks, when his body was found on a roadside in the jungles of Choco. He was dressed in civilian clothes and his passport identified him as a British national. At his side was another corpse, wearing fatigues - a rebel fighter from the National Liberation Army, or ELN.

The finding confounded investigators. The army said Mr. Parks died in combat, but they could not immediately explain what he was doing with the guerrilla band. Some even suspected he had been fighting alongside the rebel army.

Now, it appears he was kidnapped. According to witnesses, ELN rebels snatched Mr. Parks from a bus as he traveled to Medellin Saturday night. Before the kidnapping was even reported, he had died from a severe head wound, apparently from a grenade.

The ELN relies heavily on kidnappings to build its war chest. In the past, the group has abducted athletes, foreign oil executives and, on one occasion, an entire church congregation.

With 10 kidnappings a day in Colombia, the British Foreign Office has issued a travel warning. In particular, it advises tourists to avoid remote, war-torn provinces like Choco at all costs.