The Americas

Colombia blames rebels for disappearance of 3 journalists

  • Demonstrators hold signs to demand the release of three journalists who are believe to have been taken hostage, during a sit-in in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Salud Hernandez-Mora, correspondent in Colombia for Spain's El Mundo and columnist for the Bogota daily El Tiempo, as well as Diego D'Pablos and Carlos Melo, journalists at the local TV network RCN, are reported missing on the northeastern Colombia's border with Venezuela, a mountainous area dominated by leftist rebels and drug-traffickers. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

    Demonstrators hold signs to demand the release of three journalists who are believe to have been taken hostage, during a sit-in in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Salud Hernandez-Mora, correspondent in Colombia for Spain's El Mundo and columnist for the Bogota daily El Tiempo, as well as Diego D'Pablos and Carlos Melo, journalists at the local TV network RCN, are reported missing on the northeastern Colombia's border with Venezuela, a mountainous area dominated by leftist rebels and drug-traffickers. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)  (The Associated Press)

  • Demonstrators hold signs demanding the release of three journalists who are believed to have been taken hostage, during a sit-in in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Salud Hernandez-Mora, correspondent in Colombia for Spain's El Mundo and columnist for the Bogota daily El Tiempo, as well as Diego D'Pablos and Carlos Melo, journalists at the local TV network RCN, are reported missing on the northeastern Colombia's border with Venezuela, a mountainous area dominated by leftist rebels and drug-traffickers. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

    Demonstrators hold signs demanding the release of three journalists who are believed to have been taken hostage, during a sit-in in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Salud Hernandez-Mora, correspondent in Colombia for Spain's El Mundo and columnist for the Bogota daily El Tiempo, as well as Diego D'Pablos and Carlos Melo, journalists at the local TV network RCN, are reported missing on the northeastern Colombia's border with Venezuela, a mountainous area dominated by leftist rebels and drug-traffickers. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)  (The Associated Press)

  • Demonstrators hold banners asking for the release of three journalists who are believe to have been taken hostage, during a sit-in in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Salud Hernandez-Mora, correspondent in Colombia for Spain's El Mundo and columnist for the Bogota daily El Tiempo, as well as Diego D'Pablos and Carlos Melo, journalists at the local TV network RCN, are reported missing on the northeastern Colombia's border with Venezuela, a mountainous area dominated by leftist rebels and drug-traffickers. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

    Demonstrators hold banners asking for the release of three journalists who are believe to have been taken hostage, during a sit-in in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Salud Hernandez-Mora, correspondent in Colombia for Spain's El Mundo and columnist for the Bogota daily El Tiempo, as well as Diego D'Pablos and Carlos Melo, journalists at the local TV network RCN, are reported missing on the northeastern Colombia's border with Venezuela, a mountainous area dominated by leftist rebels and drug-traffickers. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)  (The Associated Press)

Colombia's government is blaming the country's second-largest rebel group for the disappearance of three journalists in a lawless region of the country.

Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said Thursday that intelligence reports confirm that the National Liberation Army is responsible for the journalists' disappearance.

While stopping short of saying the journalists had been taken hostage, he said a more than prudent amount of time had passed since they were last heard from and insisted it is up to the guerrillas to assure their safe return.

Salud Hernandez-Mora, a longtime correspondent for Spanish newspaper El Mundo, went missing over the weekend on assignment in the volatile Catatumbo region. Two other journalists from network RCN went missing Monday later while covering the search for the Spanish journalist.