BBC.com/ Colombian General Alzate freed by Farc rebels

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SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) Farc rebels in Colombia have released a general and two others who were abducted two weeks ago, the president says.

Gen Ruben Dario Alzate and the other captives were handed over to a humanitarian mission led by the International Red Cross and taken to a military base.

All three are in good health.

Gen Alzate’s abduction on 16 November prompted the president to suspend peace talks with the rebels in Cuba.

Pastor Alape, a Farc negotiator and commander of the rebel block responsible for the abductions travelled from Cuba to personally co-ordinate the release of the hostages.

The Red Cross confirmed that the handover had taken place in a remote location in Choco province, an isolated jungle region on Colombia’s Pacific Coast.

Gen Alzate, Cpl Jorge Rodriguez and lawyer Gloria Urrego were kidnapped 14 days ago while travelling along the Atrato river by boat.

The Farc had said that it kidnapped the general because it was unhappy that President Santos continued the military operation against them during peace talks.

The negotiations in Havana have been under way for two years and aim to bring an end to five decades of conflict.

“It is obvious that this decision helps to create a favourable atmosphere for the continuation of the talks,” Mr Santos said in a statement.

But Farc negotiators said they were not happy with the way the government dealt with the incident.

“We can’t be in the hands of the government, which decides when to suspend and when to reopen the negotiations,” Farc delegate Jesus Santrich told Venezuelan channel Telesur.

“There is no set date as yet for the talks to be resumed,” he added.

In a statement released in Havana, the rebels said: “We can’t let the peace process that has reached such an advanced state, where key issues are being discussed, be subject to such rushed, thoughtless actions”.

The Farc has renewed calls for both sides to call a ceasefire while the peace negotiations proceed.

The government has rejected such calls, saying that a truce would only help the rebel group regroup and rearm.

On Saturday, the Farc announced in Havana that the “special humanitarian protocol” to free the three hostages had been activated.

The protocol is well known in Colombia and usually involves the Farc giving the government co-ordinates for the handover point.

The Colombian president then orders a ceasefire in the area for around 48 hours.

 

www.shafaqna.com/English

 

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