Colombian rebels free last foreign hostageMarch 19th, 2009 - 1:10 am ICT by IANS
Copenhagen, March 18 (EFE) Colombian leftist rebels have released an elderly Swedish man who was held hostage in the Andean nation for almost two years. He is the last known foreign hostage.
Roland Larsson, a 69-year-old forestry engineer, is reportedly in good condition and eager to return home, his son, Tommy, told Swedish radio after speaking by telephone with his father.
Larsson was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) May 16, 2007, and was released Tuesday in a rural area in the northern province of Cordoba, about 700 km from the Colombian capital of Bogota, officials said.
“He’s doing well under the circumstances. He named all his children and laughed a couple of times,” Tommy Larsson said, adding he is hopeful his father will return to Sweden sometime next week.
According to Radio Sweden, which cited sources from Colombia’s intelligence service, Larsson suffered a stroke two months ago that left him partially paralysed and that was a key factor in the FARC’s decision to release him.
Larsson was kidnapped by a group of rebels from his ranch in the town of Tierralta, also in Cordoba; he had retired there after working for Swedish firm Skanska that was constructing the Urra hydroelectric project in that region.
The Swede became the last known foreign hostage in Colombia last year after an elite group of Colombian soldiers - one wearing Red Cross insignia - tricked a group of rebels into handing over three US military contractors, former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and other captives.
Most experts agree that the FARC has been weakened by desertions and pushed deeper into the jungle due to the efforts of US-backed, hard-line President Alvaro Uribe, but a hostage released earlier this year said the guerrillas are constantly replenishing their ranks with young recruits.
Founded in 1964 by the late Manuel “Sureshot” Marulanda, the FARC has battled a succession of Colombian governments. The group relies upon kidnapping for ransom, extortion and drug trafficking to fund its operations.
It also continues to hold almost two dozen Colombian security force members for political leverage.
- Colombia's FARC frees 10 captives - Apr 03, 2012
- Colombian guerrilla who guarded Betancourt surrenders - Sep 15, 2009
- Colombian rebels to release one of the longest held hostages in the world - Mar 30, 2010
- Colombian boy walks 70 km to seek father's release - Jul 04, 2010
- Colombian rebel forces release video of hostages, one of them kidnapped over 12 years ago - Jun 08, 2010
- Top Colombian rebel commander killed - Nov 05, 2011
- FARC rebels release Colombian soldier after one year - Mar 29, 2010
- FARC rebels release French reporter - May 31, 2012
- Colombian rebel, presumed dead, appears in TV interview - Aug 02, 2012
- No grudges at talks with Colombian government: FARC - Sep 04, 2012
- Colombia rebels appear to soften terms for prisoner swap - Feb 10, 2009
- Colombian rebels to free six hostages - Jan 31, 2009
- Slain Colombian governor lacked adequate security, says family - Dec 24, 2009
- Colombian rebels set condition for freeing French reporter - May 08, 2012
- Colombian rebels release another politician hostage - Feb 06, 2009
Tags: andean nation, colombian rebels, colombian soldiers, copenhagen march, farc, forestry engineer, hydroelectric project, intelligence service, leftist rebels, military contractors, northern province, president alvaro uribe, radio sweden, revolutionary armed forces of colombia, revolutionary armed forces of colombia farc, son tommy, swedish firm, swedish man, swedish radio, tommy larsson