Rebels Free Colombian Policeman Held for 13 Days

Colombia's second-largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), freed a policeman on Saturday after holding him captive for 13 days, in a boost to peace efforts.

The government launched peace negotiations on Wednesday with the ELN, setting its sights on a total end to a bloody half-century conflict.

The ELN kidnapped police patrolman Hector German Perez on March 20, but on Saturday delivered him to the International Committee of the Red Cross in a rural area of ​​Bolivar, in northern Colombia, the ICRC said in a statement.

President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed the release in a tweet and said the policeman would soon be reunited with his family.

Bogota hopes the talks with the ELN will bring it on board alongside Colombia's biggest rebel force, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in a bid to end what is seen as the last major armed confrontation in the West.

The ELN is a leftist group like the FARC, but they have fought as rivals for territory in a many-sided conflict that started as a peasant uprising in 1964.

Source: Agence France Presse

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