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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 apparently triggered by remote control 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.

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