Colombia hostage officers rescued

The rescue is the highest profile operation since a 2008 mission that freed former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. contractors who were kidnapped when their airplane crashed while on an anti-drug mission.

Colombia hostage officers rescued

Two police officers and an army sergeant who were held hostage by Colombia's Farc rebels for 12 years have been rescued in an operation by the country's security forces.

Authorities later confirmed a third officer, Sergeant Arbey Delgado, had also been rescued.

The rescue is the highest profile operation since a 2008 mission that freed former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. contractors who were kidnapped when their airplane crashed while on an anti-drug mission.

Both Mendieta and Murillo were captured by the FARC when rebels overran Mitu town in the jungle province of Vaupes in November 1998. They have been seen only occasionally since in FARC videos of hostages.

"I can't believe it, I am the happiest woman in the world, I am dying to hug him after so many years of absence," said Maria Teresa de Mendieta, the rescued general's wife.

Rebels from the FARC or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have been battered by President Alvaro Uribe's U.S.-backed security drive that has pushed them into remote jungles and mountains, where they are still holding military hostages.

Uribe said troops rescued General Luis Mendieta, the highest-ranking and longest-held FARC hostage, and Colonel Enrique Murillo, who were among the 22 troops and police in the hands of Latin America's oldest surviving insurgency.

"They are fighting in the jungles of Guaviare to get them out," Uribe said. "They are both in the hands of our armed forces."

The rescue came just before Colombians vote for Uribe's successor after two terms dominated by his unceasing war on FARC guerrillas and cocaine traffickers. His former defense minister, Juan Manuel Santos, is favored to win the June 20 election and promises to keep a tough line on rebels.

Reuters

Last Mod: 14 Haziran 2010, 10:43
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