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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) – Rebels kidnapped a former governor in Colombia after forcing him out of a United Nations vehicle, police said. U.N. officials on Monday protested the abduction and demanded his release.

Meta state police chief Col. Jorge Calderon accused the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in the abduction Sunday of former Gov. Alan Jara.

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan protested the forceful entry into a U.N. vehicle and demanded Jara’s immediate release in a written statement issued in New York.

Moments before the kidnapping, Jara and U.N. officials attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony of a bridge dedicated to local peace efforts. The abduction occurred in the town of Lejanias in southeastern Colombia.

“The U.N. vehicle was clearly identified with diplomatic plates and was stopped at a checkpoint by armed individuals who identified themselves as FARC guerrillas,” the U.N. statement said.

Lars Franklin, the chief U.N. official in Colombia, was riding in the same vehicle with Jara after the ceremony.

There was no immediate comment from the FARC, which carries out hundreds of kidnappings annually, either for ransom or to make political statements.

The abduction occurred just outside a Switzerland-sized FARC enclave in Meta and neighboring Caqueta state that the government ceded to the guerrillas as part of peace talks.

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Jara, 44, a former two-term congressman from the opposition Liberal Party, served as Meta’s elected governor between 1998 and 2000. He is reportedly planning to run for congress in elections scheduled for March.

The FARC is also suspected in last month’s kidnapping of Liberal Party Sen. Eladio Perez and the assassination in December of a Caqueta congressman from the same party. The party has a strong presence in the southern areas where the FARC is waging its 37-year war.

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