Colombian Rebels Free Last Military Hostages, But...

...FARC is believed to still have as many as 700 civilian hostages
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2012 3:27 AM CDT
Updated Apr 3, 2012 3:59 AM CDT
Colombian Rebels Free Last Military Hostages
Army sergeant Robinson Salcedo Guarin, center, accompanied by medical personnel, walks with two birds perched on his shoulder upon his arrival at an airport after being released by FARC.   (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Colombia's FARC rebel group has freed what it says are its last 10 military and police captives, all of whom had been held in jungle camps for at least 12 years. The four soldiers and six policemen were handed over to a humanitarian mission by the Marxist rebels. They stepped off a helicopter appearing healthy, with some men accompanied by pets—birds, a monkey, and a small pig—they had acquired during their years in captivity, Reuters reports.

Some analysts believe the release—which follows FARC's promise to stop kidnapping people for ransom—shows that the group wants peace after nearly 50 decades of fighting. Others, however, remain skeptical, noting that the group is believed to still have hundreds of civilian hostages and has been funding its activities through other means, including extortion and cocaine trafficking. A US-backed military offensive has killed the group's leaders and driven it into remote regions, making it difficult for it to keep and move hostages. (More Colombia stories.)

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