Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia kidnapping: Farc says it will release Gen Alzate on Sunday

Brig Gen Ruben Dario Alzate Mora Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ruben Dario Alzate is the first Colombian general to be abducted in 50 years of civil conflict

Farc rebels in Colombia have announced they will free an army general and two other hostages they abducted earlier this month on Sunday.

The release of Gen Ruben Dario Alzate and the other hostages had been expected a few days ago.

But the rebels cancelled the operation because of heavy military presence in the area where they are being held.

The kidnappings prompted President Juan Manuel Santos to suspend peace talks with the rebels being held in Cuba.

On Tuesday, the Farc released two soldiers - Paulo Cesar Rivera and Jonathan Andres Diaz - it had kidnapped on 9 November in the eastern border region of Arauca.

Gen Alzate was captured on 16 September along with a Cpl Jorge Rodriguez and a lawyer, Gloria Urrego, in Choco province, an isolated jungle region in Colombia's Pacific Coast.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Farc complained of excessive military presence in Choco province
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Soldier Rivera, 24, was released by the Farc on Tuesday

In a statement released in Havana, the rebels say the three hostages will be handed over to a Red Cross team on Sunday.

But they warn that the operation could be cancelled in case of bad weather: "We hope that the weather will be on our side on this humanitarian mission," the Farc statement said.

Handover details: Arturo Wallace, BBC News, Bogota

  • President Juan Manuel Santos is likely to order the interruption of any military operations in a designated area for a short period of time, usually no more than 48 hours
  • A delegation of the Red Cross travels to a previously agreed meeting point, probably by helicopter or by boat over the Atrato river
  • ICRC conducts medically assessment of the captives on site
  • ICRC will only confirm the captives' freedom once they are inside its vehicles and on route to the place where they are handed over to the relevant authorities
  • A more thorough medical examination and a debriefing will follow before the ex-captives can finally meet their families

The left-wing rebel group also called on the government to be inspired by its decision to release its hostages.

"We wish that other prisoners, arrested for political or social reasons, are also able to enjoy their freedom. That would be an easy, humanitarian gesture from the government," the statement says.

The Farc said previously that it kidnapped Gen Alzate because they were unhappy at the continuation of Colombian military activities during peace talks.

They had called for a ceasefire, rejected by the government.

Mr Santos has suspended the peace talks, which began two years ago in Cuba, and said they would only be resumed once Gen Alzate was released.

The negotiations are aimed at ending five decades of a conflict that has killed an estimated 220,000 people.

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