Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

ISRAELI STRIKE TAKES OUT GAZA POWER STATION AND ZHOU FALLS FROM GRACE

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French newspaper apologises for Sarkozy story

Read more

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin - Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin - Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions?

Read more

FOCUS

Pakistan's Ahmadis living in fear of extremist attacks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users show solidarity with Iraqi Christians

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Gilles Kepel, Islamic and Arab world specialist

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Argentina braced for another debt default

Read more

DEBATE

Too Late for Sanctions? Pressure Mounts on Russia over Ukraine (part 2)

Read more

  • Deadly shelling strikes Gaza UN school

    Read more

  • Dozens killed in stampede at Guinea rap concert

    Read more

  • Rats on the rampage at Louvre museum gardens

    Read more

  • US and EU slap Russia with fresh sanctions over Ukraine

    Read more

  • 'Compelling' signs Kosovo leaders trafficked organs, prosecutor says

    Read more

  • Europe launches last resupply ship to space station

    Read more

  • Graphic: Ebola spreads across West Africa

    Read more

  • Islamists seize key Benghazi army base as fuel fire rages on

    Read more

  • In pictures: ن - a sign of support for Iraq’s persecuted Christians

    Read more

  • Calls mount to ban France’s ‘violent’ Jewish Defence League

    Read more

  • Venezuela: Hugo Chavez’s ‘little bird’ strikes again

    Read more

  • France extradites suspected Jewish Museum shooter to Belgium

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Rare Sri Lankan leopard cubs born in French zoo

    Read more

Americas

FARC rebels release first of two hostage soldiers to Red Cross

Video by Kathryn STAPLEY

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-03-29

A Red Cross-led mission has confirmed the release of a Colombian soldier kidnapped by the FARC rebel group, the first of two planned hostage handovers.

REUTERS - Colombian rebels released a kidnapped army soldier to a Red Cross mission in the southern jungle on Sunday, almost a year after he was wounded and captured by Latin America’s oldest insurgency.

In the first of two planned handovers, Josue Daniel Calvo was freed by the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and flown from the jungle to Villavicencio, where he stepped off a helicopter to embrace his father and sister.

Calvo was limping badly, but looked in better health than other recently released hostages, some of whom had spent years in secret camps where they were chained and suffered from tropical diseases during captivity.

“Happiness has returned to our home again,” Luis Alberto Calvo, the soldier’s father, said shortly afterward when his son reappeared before reporters wearing his army uniform.

The rebels promised to free Calvo and another soldier, Pablo Emilio Moncayo, a year ago, but the release was delayed by disagreements between rebels and President Alvaro Uribe, who accuses the FARC of using hostages to score political points.

The handover comes just months before Colombians go to the polls in May to pick a successor for Uribe, who steps down after two terms dominated by his hardline campaign against the leftist guerrillas and cocaine traffickers.

Left behind in jungles

Calvo’s release was the latest unilateral gesture by the FARC. But broader peace talks appear unlikely with Uribe, whose U.S.-backed security drive has battered the FARC by hitting at its commanders and forcing desertions.

The FARC still holds 23 police and soldiers for political leverage as part of its four-decade-old war on the state.

The army halted operations during the handover while a loaned Brazilian army helicopter with Red Cross insignia flew the Red Cross team and mediator Sen. Piedad Cordoba, to a secret jungle location.

Rebels on Tuesday will release Moncayo, who was captured more than 12 years ago when rebels overran his army base. One of the longest-held FARC hostages, Moncayo has become a symbol of those left behind in the jungles.

He has only been seen occasionally in rebel videos.

Once a powerful army fighting for a socialist state, the FARC relies now on ambushes and bombs to harass troops. With very little popular support, rebels finance their operations with cocaine trafficking, kidnapping and extortion.

Still, the FARC remain a force in some rural areas, mainly in southern jungles, where state presence is still weak and impoverished residents are often forced to join armed groups or grow coca leaf used to manufacture cocaine.

In December, the FARC kidnapped and killed Caqueta state Governor Luis Cuellar in a high-profile operation, and this month rebels also kidnapped five local oil contractors who were later rescued by the army.
 

 

Date created : 2010-03-28

  • COLOMBIA

    Car bomb kills at least nine in Colombian port

    Read more

  • VENEZUELA

    Chavez brushes off Spanish accusations of terrorist links

    Read more

  • COLOMBIA

    Kidnapped governor found dead

    Read more

COMMENT(S)