efe-epaBogota

Three of the four bodies found in a jungle in southwestern Colombia belong to a team of journalists from the Ecuadorian daily El Comercio who were kidnapped and slain in March, the Colombian foreign minister said Friday.

"Yesterday I called the foreign minister (of Ecuador) to give him the news that we might have found the bodies of the slain journalists. The bodies are now in Cali where they were identified and will be handed over to their relatives," Maria Angela Holguin told reporters.

President Juan Manuel Santos announced Thursday the discovery of four bodies in Tumaco, Nariño province, bordering Ecuador.

The Colombian head of state said that the bodies "may correspond to the bodies of the three journalists who were kidnapped and murdered by alias 'Guacho'," the leader of a group of FARC rebels who refused to demobilize along with the bulk of the insurgents.

Reporter Javier Ortega, 32, photographer Paul Rivas, 45, and presenter Efrain Segarra, 60, were kidnapped in the Ecuadorian northern border province of Esmeraldas while investigating a recent surge of violence in the area.

Soon afterward, a group led by Walter Patricio Arizala Vernaza, a 27-year-old Ecuadorian known as "Guacho," claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and murder of the three men.

When the FARC demobilized under a November 2016 peace accord with the Colombian government, Arizala struck out on his own, forming what he called the Oliver Sinisterra Front, named for a guerrilla commander killed in 2015.

The bodies of the three journalists were found after a nearly three-month search by a joint police-army task force.