FARC rebels promise to release six hostages

December 22nd, 2008 - 2:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Bogota, Dec 22 (DPA) Colombia’s leftist FARC rebels have said that they would unilaterally release six hostages next month, Anncol news agency reported.The hostages, including former provincial governor Alan Jara, regional representative Sigifredo Lopez, three police officers and a soldier, are to be handed over to opposition Senator Piedad Cordoba in early January, according to a text from FARC’s leading secretariat obtained by the news agency Sunday.

“As a clear sign of our will and as a gesture to establish the favourable framework for a humanitarian exchange, we announce the unilateral release of six prisoners in two phases,” the Marxist group wrote.

The police officers and the soldier are to be released first, followed by the politicians.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has been engaged in a conflict with the government for decades, also unilaterally released six hostages at the beginning of 2008.

However a hoped-for exchange in July that would have swapped 50 high-profile hostages for 500 imprisoned guerrillas fell through after the military rescue of former presidential candidate Ingrid Bentancourt and 14 others, including several US contractors.

Since then, FARC has taken another 20 hostages and is believed to be holding up to 700 people captive.

The rebels and the government of conservative President Alvaro Uribe could never agree to a framework for a prisoner exchange.

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