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Colombia's ELN rebels free two hostages: Red Cross

© AFP/File | The ELN is Colombia's last active rebel force in a multi-sided conflict that began in the 1960s

BOGOTA (AFP) - 

Colombia's last active rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), freed two hostages after more than a month in captivity, the Red Cross said, a boost to ongoing peace talks.

The hostages, who were seized in mid-March, were handed over to the Red Cross in a remote area in the northwestern region of Choco, the humanitarian group said in a statement.

The hostages were identified as Freddy Alexander Chaverra and Leidy Viviana Betancourt in a tweet by Catholic Archbishop Dario Monsalve, who has often helped facilitate hostage releases.

The Red Cross said the hostage deal was reached in Quito, Ecuador, where the government and the ELN have been holding talks since February, seeking to replicate last year's historic peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The ELN has so far refused to renounce kidnapping, a stumbling block in the negotiations.

The FARC, which is now in the process of disarming, was the largest and oldest rebel group in a multi-sided conflict that began in the 1960s and has killed more than 260,000 people and left 60,000 missing.

© 2017 AFP