Colombian rebels free 29 police hostages
Updated: 2005-12-21 13:51
Colombian rebels on Tuesday released all 29 police officers they had taken
hostage during a weekend attack on a remote jungle village, the government said.
A statement from President Alvaro Uribe's office credited the hostages'
release to pressure from government forces who searched on foot and from
helicopters and river boats since the Saturday attack in San Marino, 170 miles
west of Bogota.
The attack was one of the largest in years by Colombia's rebels. Some 500
guerrillas spent six hours battling 57 police officers in San Marino before
retreating into the jungle with captives as army reinforcements began to arrive.
Eight officers were killed during the pre-dawn assault and a dozen people
were injured, including four civilians.
Troops found the officers Tuesday in generally good condition in a remote
area of Choco, police said.
One of the freed officers, Lt. Carlos Oviedo, told local RCN Television
shortly after his release that his captors included rebels from Colombia's two
main guerrilla groups, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and
the National Liberation Army, or ELN, as well as fighters from the lesser known
Revolutionary Army of Guevara, or ERG.
Uribe launched a military offensive against the rebels three years ago,
resulting in a sharp drop in kidnapping and homicide rates.
Also, authorities said a regional governor escaped unharmed from an apparent
assassination attempt Tuesday in eastern Colombia when a bomb exploded below an
armored SUV in which he was riding, authorities said.
Julio Enrique Acosta, governor of the oil reach state of Arauca, was
traveling with his 17 bodyguards in a convoy of bulletproof vehicles when the
bomb exploded ¡ª apparently triggered by remote control ¡ª on a road on the
outskirts of the state's capital city, said state police chief Col. Rodrigo
Palacios. Acosta blamed the attack on FARC or ELN.