Farc frees Colombian hostages

Rebel group releases eight people held for a week in northwest of the country.

    Relatives of the hostages were overjoyed
    at their release [Reuters]

    Colombian authorities have said those still held include two children of a senior provincial official and that the rebels were demanding an $80,000 ransom for them.

    Red Cross

    Red Cross involvement in the release appeared to allay concerns about its ability to work effectively in Colombia after the government admitted it used the group's symbol during the operation to free Betancourt.

    "The operation was made possible through discreet dialogue between the parties concerned," Yves Heller, an ICRC spokesman in Colombia, said.

    "We continue to work as a neutral mediator."

    Farc, which has fought a 44-year war against the Colombian government, holds hundreds of Colombians for ransom and in attempt to win the freedom of its fighters held by the authorities.

    The group is thought to have been weakened by desertions and the killing of two of its senior leaders. In May it said that its most senior commander, Manuel Marulanda, had died of a heart attack.

    "As the Farc starts to fragment we expect to see more kidnappings as individual fronts grow desperate for money," sCesar Restrepo, an analyst at Security and Democracy, a Bogota think tank, said.

    "If these eight hostages were set free it was only because their families could not pay much," Restrepo said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    The shocking story of Israel's disappeared babies

    The shocking story of Israel's disappeared babies

    New information has come to light about thousands of mostly Yemeni children believed to have been abducted in the 1950s.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.