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Colombia guerillas release kidnapped minor

A member of the "Omar Gomez" Western War Front of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in a camp on the banks of the San Juan River, Choco department, Colombia

Bogota (AFP)

Leftist ELN guerillas freed a teenager on Wednesday who was kidnapped two weeks before in northwestern Colombia, the country's ombudsman said.

The rebels handed the girl over to a commission from the ombudsman's office, after abducting her on September 7 from her home in Orupa, in the jungle region of Choco.

A National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel fighter by the name of Comandante Uriel, who heads the regional guerrillas, said in a message sent to journalists on Saturday that the teen was kidnapped because she was "an armed forces informant," and that she would be released after "routine procedures."

The government believes the ELN -- Colombia's last guerrilla force with about 1,500 fighters -- is holding around 10 hostages.

President Ivan Duque, who took office on August 7 promising to take a hardline against the ELN guerrillas, maintains that in order to resume peace talks the rebels must release all their hostages and end "all criminal activities."

The ELN is seeking a deal similar to the peace arrangement reached with much larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels in 2016 under Duque's predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos.

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