Colombian kidnappers demand ransom for Garcia Marquez relative

Kidnappers holding a relative of the late Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, have demanded $5 million for her release, a senior national police official said on Wednesday.

Garcia Marquez’s great niece, Melissa Martinez Garcia, 34, was seized at the end of August by a group of armed men who intercepted her vehicle near the northern city of Santa Marta, along the Caribbean coast.

"We believe this is a common crime," General Fernando Murillo, head of the national police’s anti-kidnapping unit, told reporters. "In two telephone calls they asked for $5 million."

A reward of $33,000 has been offered for information leading to her location and safe release, he said.

Martinez Garcia is the granddaughter of Jaime Garcia Marquez, the brother of the writer, who died in 2014 at 87.

Kidnapping for ransom has been a frequent source of funding during Colombia’s armed conflict, which has lasted more than 50 years and killed over 260,000 people. Leftist guerrillas, crime gangs and right-wing paramilitaries have seized thousands over the years.

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