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Latest update : 2009-01-28

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia has announced it will release some hostages on Sunday, according to a lawmaker. The last time the leftist rebels freed hostages voluntarily was in February 2008.

REUTERS - Leftist Colombian rebels plan to free some hostages on Sunday in what would be their first high-profile release of captives from jungle camps in a year, a lawmaker coordinating the operation said.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, offered last month to free two local politicians and four members of the security forces, but negotiations dragged.

Left-wing Sen. Piedad Cordoba said on Wednesday she had been told where the rebels would hand over some of the six hostages who have been held by Latin America's oldest insurgency for years.

"I already have the coordinates, the liberation is under way and the first release will take place on Sunday, and there will be three successive handovers," she told reporters following talks to fine-tune the operation.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is involved in coordinating the release and Brazil will provide helicopters to pick up the captives. Last year's releases were negotiated by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez with the senator's help.

Colombian troops rescued high-profile captives Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans in July. That operation dealt a severe blow to an insurgency already reeling from President Alvaro Uribe's U.S.-backed military offensive.

The FARC last freed hostages voluntary in February 2008 when they released four Colombian captives in a deal brokered by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The FARC has been driven back into remote areas as Uribe sent troops to retake the country. Over the last year, rebels have lost three top commanders and suffered scores of desertions.

The rebels have not said why they plan to resume releasing captives.

Date created : 2009-01-28