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Home >> World
UPDATED: 14:18, March 26, 2006
Colombia's rebel group frees two police officers
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Colombia's leftist rebels on Saturday released two police officers they had held for more than six months, the International Red Cross said.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) released Eder Almanza and Carlos Alberto Legarda to the International Committee of the Red Cross in the La Dorada jungle region along the Putumayo river, some 500 km southeast of Bogota, near the border with Ecuador, the Red Cross said in a statement. The officers were in good health.

"The government thanks the discrete work of the Red Cross," said Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on the radio, while urging the rebel group to release all the hostages it held.

The hostage-releasing announcement came unexpectedly, as the rebel group had long been violently combating the government, declaring it would never negotiate with President Uribe's government.

FARC is now holding hundreds of captives, among whom are about 60 Colombian politicians, including former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. defense contractors.

Its surprise move is believed to aim at pursuing the exchange of its high-ranking captives for the group's imprisoned insurgents.

FARC, which plays a key part in Colombia's four-decade civil war, is the country's largest and best-equipped rebel force. Kidnapping is one of the group's sources of funds as well as a means to fight against the government.

Source: Xinhua

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