July 2, 2008

A LITTLE PRESENT FOR MAVERICK FROM A FRIEND:

Ingrid Betancourt and three American hostages freed by Columbian military (Jeremy McDermott, 02/07/2008, Daily Telegraph)

Colombian officials said they had rescued Ms Betancourt, as well as three American military contractors and 11 Colombian police and soldiers hostages, from the Leftist rebels, who had held her prisoner in secret jungle camps since 2002.

Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian defence minister, says nobody was hurt in the operation in eastern Colombia, which saw Colombian army commandos capture rebels who were manning a security ring around the hostages.

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Colombian forces trick Farc rebels into freeing hostage Betancourt (Rory Carroll and Sibylla Brodzinsky, 7/03/08, The Guardian)

Military spies tricked the Marxist rebels into handing over their most valuable captives to disguised military helicopters without a shot being fired, said the government. Betancourt, called her rescue "absolutely impeccable" and said she and 14 other hostages had no idea they were being rescued until they were airborne. "They got us out grandly," she told Colombian army radio.

Her voice trembled with emotion last night as she related to Colombian radio her last moments of captivity.

She said the hostages who were being marched toward the helicopter thought they were part of an international hostage deal but when they saw the pilots dressed like guerrillas their hopes were dashed.

"They tied our hands and feet," Betancourt said. "It wasn't until the hostages were aboard the helicopter and that the pilots subdued the rebel commanders that they realised they had indeed found freedom. "We are with the army, you are free," the pilots told the hostages, Betancourt recalled.

The elaborate sting would "go into history for its audacity and effectiveness", said Juan Manuel Santos, the defence minister.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 2, 2008 3:41 PM
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