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Colombia Rebels Admit Shooting Down Plane

Leftist rebels said for the first time Saturday they are holding three Americans hostage, claiming to have shot down their plane over southern Colombia. The guerrillas on Saturday demanded the Colombian military halt operations in their area in return for the Americans’ safety. The Americans were on a U.S. government plane on an intelligence mission when it crashed on Feb. 13. A fourth American and a Colombian army sergeant were shot and killed at the site. In a statement obtained Saturday, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, accused the three Americans of being CIA agents. “On the day of Feb. 13…a unit of the Southern Block shot down a plane owned by the North American govenment,” said the statement, signed by the FARC’s secretariat. “We can only guarantee the life and physical integrity of the three gringo officials in our power if the Colombian army immediately suspends military operations and overflights in the area,” said the statement, dated Friday. Full Story

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