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New Tribes Mission (NTM) has concluded, based on multiple guerrilla testimonies, that three American missionaries kidnapped eight years ago in Panama were shot by their captors three years later as Colombian troops closed in.

While the remains of Dave Mankins, Rick Tenenoff, and Mark Rich may never be found, NTM has exhausted all leads in the case. Both the mission and the hostages' families accept that the men are dead, said NTM spokesman Scott Ross.

"It's God's time for closure," said NTM vice chairman Dan Germann. "I sat in a Colombian prison in early September with a guerrilla who once guarded Rick, Mark and Dave. His words, 'They are dead,' were final andemphatic, confirming what we had heard from several other insurgents," said Germann. "The years of tears and anxiety for our dear brothers have ended."

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas snatched the missionaries on January 31, 1993, in the eastern Panama village of Púcuro, near that country's border with Colombia. The three were planting a church among the Kuna Indians. Mankins, then 43, Tenenoff, then 36, and Rich, then 23, and their families were in Púcuro when armed guerrillas burst into their homes. The rebels held the men at gunpoint while the wives packed a few belongings, including their Bibles.

"Nancy Mankins, Tania Rich, and Patti Tenenoff last saw their husbands, hands bound behind their backs, marching into the Panamanian jungle," Germann's press release said. The men were later taken across the border into Colombia. Their wives returned to the United States.

In the eight years since the kidnapping, NTM's crisis committee pursued leads, questioned suspects, launched a huge media campaign and pressured the Colombian and U.S. governments to ...

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