Colombia's FARC releases former councilor Baquero

14:05, February 10, 2011      

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Police officers patrol inside the airport in Villavicencio, Colombia, on Feb. 9, 2011. Police officers will participate in the expected release of Marcos Baquero, member of the municipal council of San Jose del Guaviare. Baquero was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in June 2009. (Xinhua/Huang Yongxian)

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on Wednesday released former councilor Marcos Baquero, one of the five hostages it had promised to free.

Baquero was handed over to former Colombian Senator Pierdad Cordobahas, ICRC delegates and a member of Colombians for Peace in a rural area of Meta province, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement.

He was then transported by a Brazilian helicopter to an airport in Villavicencio, Mata's capital, where his family was waiting for him.

On Dec. 8, 2010, FARC announced it would unilaterally release five hostages, including 35-year-old Baquero, as a goodwill gesture.

Baquero was the first to be freed, and the other four are scheduled to be released on Feb. 11 and Feb. 13.

"Another humanitarian operation will be hosted on Feb. 11 in Caqueta province, when councilor Armando Acuna and marine Henry Lopez Martinez will be released," the ICRC said.

"The third operation will be on Feb. 13 in Tolima province, when soldier Salin Antonio Valderrama and police captain Gueillermo Solorzano will be released," it added.

After his release, Baquero said he would push for a march to appeal for the release of all hostages held by FARC.

Baquero, who was taken hostage in June 2009, said, "From today on, I am inviting you to hold a march for the release of police officers, soldiers and civilians still in the jungle" kept as hostages by FARC.

FARC, Latin America's oldest guerrilla group, was once a strong anti-government force and was notorious for its drug trafficking and kidnapping activities.

But the group has suffered huge setback due to a determined government security drive since 2002 and backtracked into remote mountains and jungles.

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