"We call upon those responsible within the [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] to come forth with a complete account of our missing fellow citizens," said a State Department spokesman, Reuters news agency reported.
The announcement marked the eighth anniversary of the 1993 abduction of missionaries Dave Mankins, Rick Tenenoff, and Mark Rich. These men were working for the evangelical New Tribes Mission when they were abducted from a Panamanian village near the country's border with Colombia.
Whether the rebel group was involved in the initial abduction is unclear, but reports from rebel defectors and others later confirmed the three were in their custody, according to New Tribes representatives. Initially the rebels demanded millions of dollars in ransom, but they later refused to negotiate with U.S. and Colombian officials and New Tribes representatives.
Conflicting reports of the missionaries' fates have emerged since then—some say the men were murdered by rebels in 1994, while other reports claim the men were alive as recently as 1999. Washington will continue working to investigate the trio's fate and secure their release, the State Department said.
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The State Department's statement is available online. It's not the first time the State Department has noted the anniversary in such a manner.
New Tribes Mission has devoted a section of its Web site to an area solely about the three kidnapped missionaries, with news, prayer requests, a history of the kidnapping, and information about the missionaries and their families.
World magazine also devoted its February 20, 1998 cover story to the hostage situation.
Earlier Christianity Today coverage of the missing missionaries includes:
Colombian Guerilla Offers No Clues to Missionaries' Fate | FBI says that Medina has no information on kidnapped New Tribes missionaries. (Feb. 23, 2001)
Break in Missionary Kidnapping Case | Captured Colombian guerilla may hold key to U.S. missionaries' fate. (Dec. 4, 2000)
Plan for Peace in Colombia Is a Plan 'For Death,' Say Church Activists | Will U.S. military assistance in destroying coca fields only increase violence? (Aug. 15, 2000)
Death in the Night | Colombia's pastors endure extortion, kidnappings, and threats as they plant churches and help the poor in a war zone. (June 6, 2000)
Fate of Kidnapped Missionaries Still Unresolved | Colombia remains thought to end questions are not human after all. (Mar. 29, 2000)
Twenty-five Pastors Killed This Year (Oct. 4, 1999)
Christians Held As Hostages (July 12, 1999)
Colombia's Bleeding Church | Despite the murders of 120 church leaders, Christians are fighting for peace in one of the world's most violent nations. (May 18, 1998)
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