Colombian rebels free Dutch hostage

11th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

Colombia's leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels on Wednesday set free a Dutch hostage they had held since January, the International Red Cross said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross and Roman Catholic church mediated in the release of the hostage, whose identity was not released, the ICRC said in a statement on the release in Norte de Santander, in the northeast.

"We are pleased to have been able to play a part in this person being set free," said Christoph Harnisch, with ICRC Colombia.

The ELN, Colombia's second largest rebel force, is in preliminary discussions on peace talks with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos.

On Monday, ELN forces said they had captured Fredys Palacios, mayor of Alto Baudo, in Choco department.

Choco has been one of the regions hardest hit by the Colombian conflict, which has killed more than 220,000 people and caused more than five million to flee their homes since the largest rebel force -- the Marxist FARC -- was founded in 1964.

Santos' government and the FARC have been in on-and-off peace talks in Havana for over two years.

© 2015 AFP

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