Rebels kidnap geologist in northern Colombia

Bogota, Jul 1 (EFE).- Members of the ELN guerrilla group kidnapped a geologist engaged in cartography work in the northern province of Cesar, the Colombian Geological Service, or SGC, said Tuesday.

Andres Felipe Calle Valencia, a contractor from the University of Caldas, has been held since Sunday afternoon by individuals "who say they belong to the National Liberation Army (ELN)," the SGC communique said.

"Faced with this bleak situation,the Colombian Geological Service asks that the life and physical well-being of geologist Andres Felipe (Calle) be spared, and hopes that he will be freed as soon as possible," the statement added.

The kidnapping was reported just 24 hours after the ELN announced a general strike between July 3-6 on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.

The strike will be enforced in regions where the ELN has influence: "on roads, in transport and businesses in Arauca, Boyaca, Casanare and the Santanders," all provinces near the border with Venezuela.

"We hope the strike order is obeyed so there are no incidents to grieve over, and that the time of the strike is used for family activities in homes and neighborhoods while travel is suspended," the ELN said.