Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said Friday that two Ecuadorian journalists and their driver, kidnapped while on assignment along the Colombian border, have been killed.
“We have no proof of life and unfortunately we have information that confirms the murder of our countrymen,” Moreno said on Ecuador TV.
Journalists Javier Ortega and Paul Rivas, along with their driver, Efrain Segarra, were kidnapped last month near the border while on assignment.
Authorities received photos Thursday allegedly showing the three men dead, Ecuadorian Minister of Interior César Navas told reporters.
Moreno said the photos “could be accurate” but that experts in Ecuador and Colombia were working to confirm their authenticity.
Earlier this month, a video emerged allegedly showing the three men with chains around their necks, pleading for their lives.
Moreno had set a 12-hour deadline Thursday night for kidnappers to provide proof of life. He said the kidnappers would be punished if the deadline wasn’t met.
Moreno left the Summit of Americas in Peru on Thursday following unconfirmed reports the journalists had been killed.
“I’ve decided to return immediately to Ecuador due to the critical situation we are living at the moment. I’d return to the family of Javier, Paul and Efrain,” Moreno tweeted.
CNN en Español’s Daniel Silva Fernandez and CNN’s Spencer Feingold, Natalie Gallon, Ana Melgar and Lonzo Cook contributed to this report.