QUITO, Ecuador — Seven Canadian oil workers and an American seized more than three months ago in an oil-producing region of Ecuador's Amazon jungle were released Sunday, the armed forces said.
The eight men were found about 2 p.m. in the jungle near the Colombian border "after they had been released by their captors," a statement from the armed forces joint command said. The statement said they were in good health and in the care of the military and would be turned over to their respective embassies.
The workers are employed by United Pipeline Systems, an Edmonton-based contracting company. Ken Foster of United Pipelines said the men were released near the town of Lago Agrio, about 200 miles northeast of Quito, the Ecuadorean capital.
Foster said all the men were in good health and had spoken to their families.
"The families are just ecstatic. They have been waiting for this news for a long time," he said.
The Edmonton-area men were identified as Neil Barber, Steven Brant, Rod Dunbar, Colin Fraser, Barry Meyer, Grant Rankin and Brent Scheelar. The eighth man is Leonard Carter, 23, of Montezuma, Utah.
The workers were among a group that was snatched at gunpoint Sept. 11 from the jungle where they were working on a pipeline project. An Ecuadorean soldier who was protecting the workers was killed during the attack by an unidentified armed group. The other hostages, a Canadian woman and several Spaniards, were released about a month later.
Earlier this month, the company that contracted United Pipeline Systems paid a ransom to the kidnappers. Unconfirmed news reports said the amount was $3.5 million.
Gen. Jorge Villarroel, Ecuador's national police commander, said Colombia's leftist National Liberation Army is suspected of organizing the kidnapping.