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article imageFARC releases all political hostages

By Layne Weiss     Apr 2, 2012 in World
BBC News is reporting that Colombian rebel group Farc has released their last 10 hostages. A Brazilian military helicopter flew the men, who had been held for more than 12 years, to safety.
According to Reuters, the four soldiers and six policemen were released to into the care of hostage mediators and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in what the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia called the move a "gesture of peace."
The captives met their families in Villavicencio, BBC News reports. They received medical attention before being sent to Colombia's capital, Bogota.
According to Colombiareports.com, the plan originally called for the hostages to be released in two separate groups and operations, Monday and Wednesday, but plans obviously changed.
In February, Farc announced its intentions to release the hostages and to stop taking hostages for ransom.
The former hostages were shown waving happily as they got off the helicopter in Villavencio.
One soldier was seen laughing and joking with one of the medics, and skipping around draped in the Colombian flag, Reuters reports.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos welcomed the releases and he and his government have applauded Farc's gesture, but maintain it is "not enough" to begin peace talks.
"To these victims of the intolerance and cruelty of the of guerrillas, soldiers and policemen of Colombia, welcome to freedom," President Santos said. "Freedom has been long delayed, but now it's yours."
He also said, however, that releasing the hostages and promising to stop the kidnapping were "not enough," and that the hundreds of civilians that were still believed to be held must also be released, BBC News reports.
"The country and the world demand the release of all the hostages," President Santos said. "When the government believes there are enough guarantees to begin a process that leads to the end of the conflict, the country will know it," he continued.
According to Colombiareports.com, Farc has not announced the fate of its civilian hostages, which Colombia's El Tiempo newspaper reports there are 405 of.
Meanwhile, the move by Farc Monday is not being ignored.
"This is a gesture that shouldn't be underestimated," local conflict analyst, Juan Carlos Palou said.
"The promise that they will no longer kidnap for ransom implies to me that the government really should take is a sign that Farc really is interested in talks and move ahead to end the process," he said.
Other analysis, however, are far less optimistic about Farc's true intentions. Some believe that Farc's gesture is all part of a ploy to garner international support and money for its cause. The fear is that if Farc sheds its terrorist image, they may receive more respect and support only to grow even more dangerous.
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