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Colombia Army Frees 5 Held by Rebels

August 13, 2000

BOGOTA (AP) _ A journalist abducted by Colombia’s largest guerrilla group and held captive for more than 200 days was rescued Sunday by soldiers, along with four other kidnap victims, the army said.

One guerrilla was killed in the rescue operation, army Gen. Jorge Morga told a news conference.

Guillermo Cortes, host of a popular weekly television news program, owner of a Bogota soccer team and part-owner of several news-oriented Colombian magazines was kidnapped from his home on the capital’s wealthy northern outskirts on Jan. 22 by leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas.

The rebels had demanded $1 million for his release.

An anti-kidnapping squad rescued the five hostages from a private home in the mountains between the municipalities of Medina and Los Alpes, about 55 miles south Bogota, Morga said.

``A group of soldiers successfully surrounded those guarding the victims without them realizing it,″ Morga said.

The released victims were transported by horse to a nearby military outpost then by helicopter to Bogota.

According to government statistics, the FARC is responsible for about 30 percent of the 8,000 annual kidnappings in Colombia.

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