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Brazil Lends Helicopter to Rescue FARC’s Colombian Hostages

Colombian hostages With the help of Brazil a Colombian soldier and three police officers were released from captivity by Marxist guerrillas Sunday night, completing the first stage of a three-step release of hostages.

A Brazilian Red Cross helicopter carrying police officers Walter Lozano, Alexis Torres and Juan Fernando Galicia and soldier William Dominguez landed at an airport in Villavicencio, southeast of Bogotá, shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday.

The men – some of whom had been held for several years, the Red Cross said – waved as they stepped off the chopper and were met by well-wishers carrying white flowers.

Many of those who greeted the men were from Colombians for Peace, the group that initiated the hostage release.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has been battling the government for decades, handed the men over to the Red Cross earlier Sunday.

The Colombian government says FARC is still holding about 700 captives. But many analysts see this week's planned release of a total of six hostages as the first step toward an eventual peace accord with the government.

The rebels announced the hostage release December 21. A Colombian delegation led by Senator Piedad Cordoba, who brokered a previous hostage release in 2007, left Friday for Brazil to make final arrangements.

On Tuesday, Cordoba's delegation is scheduled to travel to another site designated by the FARC to pick up the governor of the Meta state, Alan Jara, who was abducted in 2001.

The delegation then will receive instructions from FARC on how and where to proceed in the third and final leg Wednesday to collect Sigifredo Lopez, a former official in the city of Valle del Cauca, who was kidnapped in 2003.

The Colombian government has recently stepped up pressure on the rebels, offering rewards to the guerrillas if they surrender and free their hostages. Earlier this month, two guerrillas fled their camp deep in the jungles of southern Colombia, bringing along two kidnap victims – a 14-year-old boy and a male adult who were kidnapped in December.

A journalist accompanying the mission reported that military flights over the jungle had complicated and delayed the handover.  The Colombian government called the allegations unfounded.  The hostages are among six captives the FARC said it would release this week.

Later Monday, the rebels are expected to release Alan Jara, a former governor kidnapped in 2001.  Former lawmaker Sigifredo Lopez is expected to be freed on Wednesday.  Lopez was abducted in 2002.`

The FARC is Colombia's most powerful rebel group.  It has been designated as a terrorist organization by Colombia, the European Union and the United States.

Last year, the FARC was dealt a blow when government soldiers posing as members of a humanitarian group freed 15 prominent hostages, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three American citizens.

Bzz/Mercopress

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  • Show Comments (2)

  • Falupa

    Drug War
    It’s sad what the drug war is doing to the people of South America. This is because the military force is easing their grip on the guerrilla forces that fight for the drug cartels. It’s sad to see that this happens.

  • Forrest Allen Brown

    THEY KNOW WHEN THEY ARE BEAT
    with the world wide slow down the price of
    there drugs the main sorce of there money has fell to record lows all over the world
    and the price for import has gone up by more then the price they can sell it for and make the big profits

    and with the presure from coulmbian government with help from the US they can only work well in the border
    reigon of lula land and chaves land as they receive help from them by lack of enforcement of laws on them .

    try this on if you dont beleive has the farc ever taken a US citisen in eather of the two lands , for that fact
    any foriner ? any police or military from said border lands to try to get
    the other governments to try to press for there rights in coulmbia ?????

    in the past few years the president of coulmbia has put one paramilitary unit on the other
    and now very few are left the leaders of the farc are trying to better themselves in the eyes of the people
    so when they give up they stand a better chance of light jail terms or exile to castro lula chaves .
    they hev seen just last week brasil let a known terist move to brasil , and they know how chaves is but a little gray on castro .

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