A bishop preaching in a war zone on Sunday called on leftist rebels to release French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt and hundreds of other, lesser-known captives.
The sermon was held amid driving rain in San Jose del Guaviare, a jungle town near where Betancourt is believed to be held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
“We hope that the FARC heeds our appeals and speedily liberates Ingrid Betancourt and the rest of the hostages,’’ Bishop Guillermo Orozco told 400 people crowded into his church.
He urged the rebels to “accept the mediation of the church so we can finally get those hostages free,” and said the hostages should “resist and be confident that at some point their release will come.”
The abduction of former sentaor Betancourt while campaigning for Colombia’s presidency in February 2002 has prompted an international outcry and multinational efforts to rescue her.
The latest, French-led mission to free her — or at least deliver medical aid — seemed at a standstill on Sunday. A government jet carrying doctors and diplomats has been sitting idle on the tarmac at Bogota’s international airport since it arrived last Thursday.
French Ambassador Jean Michel Marlaud was working at the embassy on Sunday and was too busy to talk to reporters, his aides said.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in Paris on Saturday that the French team was still “on alert’’ in case the rebels make contact.
So far the rebels have not responded to the humanitarian effort, which was launched amid reports the 46-year-old Betancourt was near death.
The uncorroborated reports came from unidentified peasant farmers in eastern Guaviare state who allegedly saw Betancourt in recent weeks.
Betancourt’s mother, Yolanda Pulecio, told Caracol radio on Sunday that her daughter was suffering from the parasitic infection amebiasis.
“She has a cyst formed by amoebas,” Pulecio said during a weekend program dedicated to transmitting messages for the hostages. “That is very painful.”
Pulecio said as a result, her daughter had no appetite and was not eating properly. She did not explain where she received the information and did not return telephone calls from reporters.
Betancourt’s son, Lorenzo Delloye, said in Paris last week that his mother suffers from hepatitis B and a skin disease and was in danger of dying if she didn’t get a blood transfusion “in the coming hours.”
Delloye said he had received the information from former hostage Luis Eladio Perez, who last saw Betancourt on Feb. 4.
FEELING THREATENED: The first military commission under Kim Jong-un’s leadership to last longer than a day is a sign of a growing escalatory doctrine, an analyst said North Korea discussed assigning additional duties to its frontline army units at a key military meeting, state media said yesterday, suggesting that the country might deploy battlefield nuclear weapons targeting South Korea along the rivals’ tense border. The discussion comes as South Korean officials said North Korea has finished preparations for its first nuclear test in five years, as part of possible efforts to build a warhead to be mounted on short-range weapons capable of hitting targets in South Korea. During an ongoing meeting of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party on Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and
TRADE TALK: Xiao Qian said that Australia had fired the ‘first shot’ in deteriorating trade relations with China, but improvements were possible if Canberra takes action China’s new ambassador to Australia chided protesters who heckled him yesterday during a speech about the future of relations between the two countries. Xiao Qian (肖千), who has only been in the role since January, had just begun his speech at the University of Technology Sydney when the first protesters interjected, calling for freedom for Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. The ambassador was repeatedly interrupted by sign-wielding protesters, some criticizing China’s treatment of the Uighur people as well as the university for inviting Xiao to speak. “People who are coming again and again to interrupt the process, that’s not expression of freedom of
China’s COVID-19 outbreak is shifting to its south coast, with a flareup in Shenzhen triggering mass testing and a lockdown of some neighborhoods, while Macau — an hour’s drive away — is racing to stop its first outbreak in eight months. The new cases come as China’s two most important cities, Beijing and Shanghai, look to be subduing the virus after months of strict curbs and repeated testing. Shanghai yesterday reported nine local cases, while Beijing reported five. Nationwide, China yesterday reported 34 new COVID-19 infections. Yet new clusters continue to emerge, prompting action from local officials. Borders are increasingly under pressure, with
New Zealand stargazers were left puzzled and awed by strange, spiraling light formations in the night sky on Sunday night. At about 7:25pm, Alasdair Burns, a stargazing guide on Stewart Island, also called Rakiura, received a text from a friend saying to go outside and look at the sky. He went out and saw a huge, blue spiral of light amid the darkness. “It looked like an enormous spiral galaxy, just hanging there in the sky,” Burns said. “Quite an eerie feeling.” “We quickly banged on the doors of all our neighbors to get them out as well. And so there were