Colombia rescues two top cops long-held by FARC
Bogota: Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has said two police officers, among the longest-held captives by leftist FARC guerrillas, have been rescued by the military 12 years after they were kidnapped.
"They`re both in the hands of our armed forces, who right now are fighting in the jungles of Guaviare," department, in Colombia`s southern Amazon basin, Uribe said in a speech in eastern Quibdo yesterday.
He did not say when or how the hostages were rescued, but asked police commander Oscar Naranjo to "call their families" to give them the good news.
Police general Luis Herlindo Mendieta and colonel Enrique Murillo were kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia`s oldest and strongest rebel group, in November 1998, when they were colonel and captain in the police force, respectively.
News of the high-profile rescue comes one week ahead of runoff Presidential Elections in which Uribe`s chosen successor, ex-defence minister Juan Manuel Santos, is favoured to beat former Bogota mayor Antanas Mockus. The first round of voting was held on May 30.
Barred constitutionally from seeking re-election, Uribe ends his back-to-back four-year terms in office on a high note, being credited with cutting the FARC`s strength in half since he took office in 2002.
Santos, who as defence minister took credit for the spectacular rescue in July 2008 of French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, three American hostages and 11 military personnel held by FARC, has vowed to continue Uribe`s crackdown on insurgency and crime.
FARC rebels still hold hostage at least 20 soldiers and police officers they propose to swap for around 500 guerrillas in Colombian jails.
Uribe has so far ruled out any prisoner swap with FARC.
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