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article imageColombia's ELN rebels release civilian hostage: Red Cross

By AFP     Sep 29, 2016 in World

Colombia's second-largest rebel force, the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN), on Thursday released a civilian captive to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the humanitarian organization said.

"A civilian who was in the hands of the National Liberation Army (ELN) was handed over today to the ICRC," it said in a statement.

The ELN freed the hostage in Arauca, a rural area that borders Venezuela.

ICRC delegates at the hostage transfer said the person was "in proper health," but provided no details about the civilian's identity.

Colombia's leftist FARC rebel force -- the country's largest -- signed a historic peace accord with the government Monday, ending the country's half-century civil war.

However, the government and the Cuban-inspired ELN have yet to begin planned peace talks, although President Juan Manuel Santos said Tuesday that the start of negotiations could be announced as early as next week.

Formal negotiations would not proceed until the ELN has stopped its kidnappings, the president said.

The ELN -- which has some 1,500 fighters in its ranks -- has pledged to hold its fire in the lead-up to a referendum on Sunday, when Colombians will decide whether to accept the peace deal with the FARC.

If the accord passes, the FARC has pledged to disarm and convert into a political party.

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