Americans Seized, Held Hostage by Environmental Protesters


Ten American tourists who were taken hostage on Thursday by an indigenous group protesting oil spills have been released.

They were among a group of 248 people held hostage aboard a riverboat in Peru, according to the Independent.

In addition to the Americans, 228 Peruvian citizens and a few British, Swiss, Spanish and French nationals were on the boat and were taken captive, CBS News reported.

“We were just all freed. We have boarded a boat and are on our way to [the city of] Iquitos,” freed Peruvian tourist Angela Ramirez told Reuters on Friday. According to Reuters, a local media outlet reported that none of the hostages was harmed.

The captives were taken by members of the native Cuninico community to draw attention to grievances concerning a September oil spill, according to ABC News.

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Peruvian authorities said on Twitter that “after dialogue with the [head] of the Cuninico communities, our request to release people was accepted.”

“The right and respect for life must prevail,” said Watson Trujillo Acosta, one of the Cuninico leaders.

Trujillo Acosta said taking hostages was a “radical measure” to get the government to assess the environmental damage from the September oil spill that sent 2,500 tons of crude oil into the Cuninico River.

Ramirez said the hostage-takers were respectful and told them “[the sooner] the government answered … their request, the faster the group would be released.”

American hostage Lon Haldeman sent a statement to CBS during the incident, saying, “The villagers are peaceful toward us but they did take over the boat with spears and clubs.”

“No one had guns. We were parked near an island last night and the villagers took the battery from the boat motor. The captain and drivers are being held in a village jail. The village wants to keep the big boat for ransom.”

Haldeman said the hostage-takers were demanding “medical help and clean water and food” after the oil spill.

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According to the nonprofit Earth Rights International, oil spills have contaminated waterways the Cuninico use for drinking and fishing, Fox News reported.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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