9 hikers murdered; motive, killers sought
The nine young men and women hiked through ancient ruins, rugged peaks and valleys and to the foothills of a snowcapped volcano. There, in the breathtaking Colombian Andes, they were shot execution-style each was a bullet to the head. On Wednesday, their bodies were being shipped back to their homes as this South American nation struggled to make sense of the latest massacre of innocents in a land rife with war.
The decomposing bodies of the six men and three women were pulled out of a ravine Tuesday near southwest Colombia's Purace National Park. Officials would not speculate on who killed the hikers or why. But police and military authorities noted the country's largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, is active in the area where the killings took place.
11 passengers killed in bus plunge
A passenger bus plunged off an Andean highway into a ravine Tuesday, killing 11 people and injuring 32 others, police said. The driver lost control as the bus was traveling to the city of Ayacucho, 220 miles southeast of Lima, police said.
Scores of people are killed in bus accidents each year in Peru because of inadequate maintenance of older vehicles, winding mountain roads and a tendency toward excessive speed by drivers.
Ransom agreed before execution date
Kidnappers who murdered a U.S. oil worker last month agreed to a ransom offer shortly before a deadline to kill another captive, Ecuador's military chief said Wednesday. Four of their seven hostages are American.
"The criminal group said it would not execute anyone else and I understand they have reached some economic arrangement," said Vice Adm. Miguel Saona, adding that he did not know details of the ransom plan. The body of kidnap victim Ronald Sander, 54, of Sunrise Beach, Mo., was found in the jungle Jan. 31. He had been shot five times in the back and was covered in a white sheet scrawled with the words in Spanish: "I am a gringo. For nonpayment of ransom."