RealNews

Colombia Rebels Looking to Swap Hostages

Colombia Rebels Looking to Exchange Hostage Foreigners for Jailed Rebels, Leader Tells Newspaper. A senior Colombian guerrilla leader said he would like to exchange seven foreign backpackers for imprisoned rebels, but he did not make it a requisite for freeing the tourists, media reported Wednesday. Speaking by telephone from a rebel hideout, Pablo Beltran, the No. 3 leader of the National Liberation Army, told Colombia’s largest daily El Tiempo and other media that the four Israelis, a Briton, a German and a Spaniard being held hostage were all in good health. Gunmen from the rebel group, known as the ELN, seized the tourists from ancient jungle ruins in the Sierra Nevada mountains on Sept. 12. An eighth hostage later escaped. “We have comrades in prison, the majority of whom are very sick, and we would like to have them included in an exchange,” he said. However, when asked what exactly were the group’s demands, the rebel leader reiterated an earlier call for human rights groups to visit the Sierra Nevada to take a firsthand look at the plight of impoverished villagers. Separately, a senior ELN leader, Felipe Torres, was paroled Thursday after serving just nine years for guerrilla-related activities. Full Story

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