Colombia's ELN guerrillas free Germans hostages

Kidnappings may have been part of an effort by the ELN to press the government to include them in peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia

Colombia's ELN guerrillas free Germans hostages

World Bulletin/News Desk

Colombia's second-largest guerrilla group on Friday freed two German men that the rebels had held since November, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

The two were being transferred by helicopter from a jungle location to an airport in northeast Norte de Santander province, and handed over to the German Embassy and representatives of Colombia's government, according to the ICRC.

The hostages had been held since November by the National Liberation Army, known as ELN.

The rebel group said in early February it had captured the two men in Catatumbo, near the border with Venezuela, and identified them as Uwe Breuer and Gunther Otto Breuer.

The ELN said initially it considered the two to be intelligence agents because they could not explain why they were in the area, but the German government said they were pensioners traveling through South America.

Late last month, Colombia's government authorized a committee of civilians and Red Cross officials to travel to the area to talk to the guerrillas.

The ELN is now believed to have about 3,000 fighters.

Security sources say the kidnappings may have been part of an effort by the ELN to press the government to include them in peace talks under way in Cuba with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the country's largest rebel group.

Last Mod: 09 Mart 2013, 11:01
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