Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza conflict: Palestinians mark sombre Eid

Read more

WEB NEWS

Celebrities in the Israel-Gaza crossfire

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Israeli strike takes out Gaza power station

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French newspaper apologises for Sarkozy story

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Last-ditch talks aim to avert Argentina default

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

  • Deadly shelling strikes Gaza UN school

    Read more

  • Video: Coping with rocket attacks in Israel’s Sderot

    Read more

  • Rats on the rampage at Louvre museum gardens

    Read more

  • France evacuates nationals, closes embassy in Libya

    Read more

  • Scores trapped as landslide hits Indian village

    Read more

  • Dozens killed in stampede at Guinea rap concert

    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

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

    Read more

  • Islamists seize key Benghazi army base as 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

Americas

FARC rebels free hostage after 12 years

Video by Kathryn STAPLEY

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-03-31

FARC rebels have released a soldier who has been held hostage by the rebel group in the jungle for twelve years. 32 year-old Pablo Emilio Moncayo was captured after guerrilla fighters overran his army base at the height of the conflict.

REUTERS - Colombian rebels on Tuesday freed a hostage soldier they had held in secret camps for more than 12 years after guerrillas overran his army base at the height of the conflict, the Red Cross said.

A Red Cross mission flew into the southern jungles and was returning with Pablo Emilio Moncayo, 32, who was a teenager when captured and become a symbol of those left behind in the waning war against Latin America’s longest-running insurgency.

Caracas-based Telesur television, which had a camera at the site, showed images of Moncayo smiling in uniform with Colombian lawmaker Sen. Piedad Cordoba, who traveled with the Red Cross and has negotiated hostage releases in the past.

“After more than 12 years in captivity, Sgt. Pablo Emilo Moncayo was handed over this afternoon, the Red Cross said in a statement.

His release was the second this week by the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, once a powerful rebel force that has been hobbled by President Alvaro Uribe’s U.S.-backed war on guerrillas and cocaine traffickers.

The handovers came before Colombians go to the polls in May to pick a successor for Uribe. He steps down after two terms dominated by his hard-line against the FARC and has accused the rebels of using hostages to score points before the elections.

Guerrillas on Sunday freed Josue Daniel Calvo, kidnapped a year ago after he was wounded in combat. The FARC are still holding 22 police and soldiers captive.

Moncayo’s father lobbied for his release with governments from Venezuela to France, often wearing chains he says symbolize his son’s captivity. Moncayo was only been seen occasionally in rebel videos since his 1997 kidnapping.

Hope for hostages

Guerrilla commanders have freed hostages before and captives return with stories of horrendous conditions, of being chained to trees or suffering jungle disease and fleeing constantly from army patrols.

The releases have reopened discussions about a possible broader agreement to negotiate an exchange of jailed rebels for kidnapped troops. But past hostage releases have not led to any such agreement or opened up peace talks.

Uribe, whose father was killed in a botched rebel kidnap bid two decades ago, says he is open to an exchange if freed rebels do not return to crime and if the handover does not mean demilitarizing an area that would allow rebels to regroup.

The FARC has in the past demanded Uribe pull troops back from a zone the size of New York City to guarantee any handover. They also wanted to include several extradited FARC leaders held in U.S. jails in any swap. Still, their recent communiques have not mentioned these conditions.

But broader peace talks to end the four-decade insurgency appear unlikely with Uribe, who demands the rebels cease hostilities before any talks can begin. Any candidate to replace Uribe in this year’s election is likely to maintain his popular, tough line with the guerrillas.

Once an army that bombed and kidnapped at will, the FARC has lost top commanders and seen its ranks thinned by desertions. But it is still a threat in rural areas where state presence is weak, thanks to cash from cocaine trafficking.
 

Date created : 2010-03-31

  • COLOMBIA

    FARC rebels release first of two hostage soldiers to Red Cross

    Read more

  • COLOMBIA

    Car bomb kills at least nine in Colombian port

    Read more

  • COLOMBIA

    Pro-Uribe parties win congressional vote

    Read more

COMMENT(S)