Colombian guerilla group frees two German hostages | News | DW | 08.03.2013
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Colombian guerilla group frees two German hostages

Two German hostages have been freed by Colombia's second-largest guerilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) has said. They had been held since last November.

The German brothers aged 69 and 73, were freed on Friday, the ICRC said in a statement. The two were reportedly transferred via helicopter to a nearby airport in northeast Norte de Santander province, where they were handed over to the German embassy and Colombian government representatives.

The ICRC did not immediately say what condition the brothers were in.

"I am very relieved that the two Germans are free again and are in the safe care of the German embassy," said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. "We have therefore found a good ending to their family's fear and uncertainty."

The ELN said in early February they had captured the two in Catatumbo, near the Venezuelan border. The rebels considered them to be intelligence agents because the two couldn't explain why they were in the area. The German government said they were retirees making a four-wheel-drive trip through South America.

In February the Colombian government authorized a committee of civilians to travel to the area to talk with the guerillas.

The ELN are Colombia's second largest guerilla group, with an estimated 2,500 fighters. FARC, the country's largest guerilla group with an estimated 8,000 fighters, is currently holding peace talks with the government.

dr/hc (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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