Seven hostages held by Colombian rebels for as long as nine years appealed in a video released on Tuesday for the government to reach a deal with their guerrilla captors to win their release.
While it was not clear when the rebel video was made, it was the first time in more than four years that the families of some of the police and soldiers held hostage had news of them.
The men are among dozens kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Latin America’s oldest insurgency, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans captured in 2003.
In the video, one of the hostages said he had recently been at a jungle camp with Betancourt. France is pushing for Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and the guerrillas to reach an agreement for her release.
“I have found myself in a camp with other prisoners of war, with hostage politicians, like Ingrid, Mrs. Clara and a boy who is always with them,” said William Dominguez, a military officer, in a copy of the video seen by Reuters.
He was referring to Betancourt and her assistant, Clara Rojas, who were kidnapped by the FARC in 2002 while Betancourt campaigned for the presidency. Rojas had a child, Emmanuel, in captivity about three years ago.
Betancourt, Rojas and the three US contract workers snatched in 2003 while on an anti-narcotics mission are among the highest profile hostages held by the FARC.
“This tears my soul apart, (to see him) in these conditions, so thin, poor boy,” said Gustavo Moncayo, father of one of the soldiers, after seeing the video. Moncayo is walking across Colombia to demand an agreement to free the hostages.
The video was released just days after the FARC said 11 local politicians held for more than five years had been killed in crossfire during combat. But Uribe accused the FARC of murdering the men in an incident that has shocked the country.
Violence from Colombia’s four-decade conflict has dropped sharply as Uribe leads a US-backed campaign to drive back the guerrillas and the drug trade that helps fuel fighting.
Last Mod: 04 Temmuz 2007, 10:00