Tue, Feb 15, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Fourth captive freed by Colombia’s FARC rebels


Colombian rebels released a fourth captive on Sunday, but a planned handover of two others did not occur. The government said the men were not at the location designated for the helicopter retrieval by the International Red Cross.

Former senator Piedad Cordoba, the go-between in all 18 releases by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) since early 2008, did not offer an explanation except to say via Twitter that she was “certain we will soon see them freed.”

She wrote from Ibague, a provincial capital in Colombia’s central cordillera, the staging area for Sunday’s missions. The Red Cross also did not elaborate.

The government’s delegate, Eduardo Pizarro, told reporters that after picking up police patrolman Carlos Ocampo, a 30-year-old held since December, the loaned Brazilian military helicopter emblazoned with Red Cross logos went to a different jungle location whose coordinates had been provided to Cordoba by the FARC.

Pizarro said “the FARC has committed a scandalous act.”

He said the government would evaluate the situation with the Red Cross and other involved parties yesterday.

He said it “is committed to the liberation” of police Major Guillermo Solorzano, 35, who was captured in June 2007, and of army Corporal 1st Class Salin Antonio San Miguel Valderrana, 27, captive since May 2008.

The FARC now holds fewer than 20 police and soldiers, whose freedom it has proposed exchanging for that of jailed rebels.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Saturday criticized what he termed the “media show” surrounding the FARC rebels’ piecemeal liberations last week. Santos called the releases a “farce” because the FARC continues to kidnap people and won’t cease hostilities.

In an interview published on Sunday by Semana magazine, the president also said that “no one in this government is authorized to make any contact of any kind with the FARC.”

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