Paraguayan rebel group releases kidnapped Mennonite man

February 26, 2017
Franz Wiebe waves to the press from behind a swing, accompanied by his father Abraham Wiebe, left, and a soldier, outside his home in a Mennonite community in Rio Verde, Paraguay, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Paraguayan authorities say Wiebe walked 20 kilometers (12 miles) to reach his home after being released by the Paraguayan People's Army that had kidnapped him in July while he was harvesting corn. (Roberto Zarza/Diario ABC via AP)

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — Paraguayan authorities say a Mennonite man walked 20 kilometers (12 miles) to reach his home in the Rio Verde Colony after being released by a small rebel group that had kidnapped him in July.

Franz Wiebe was kidnapped by the Paraguayan People’s Army while he was harvesting corn at a farm about 210 miles (340 kilometers) north of Asuncion. At the time, his father said the rebels set 15-day deadline to pay a $700,000 ransom but the family didn’t have the money.

Col. Victor Urdapilleta, spokesman for Paraguay’s anti-terror force, said Saturday the 18-year-old “was received by his parents and neighbors” in the Mennonite colony “apparently, at first glance, in good shape.”

After his July kidnapping, the rebels acknowledged that Wiebe was not their target. They had planned to kidnap the son of the owner of the farm where he worked.

They then demanded that colony leaders distribute $100,000 of food to poor indigenous and farm communities in exchange for his release.

Authorities said that demand was met.