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Two Swedes Freed By Ecologically Minded Rebels

May 12, 1995

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Two Swedish engineers released by ecologically minded rebels after five months in captivity lost weight but were in good spirits, a spokesman for their company said Friday.

The Swedish ambassador said the engineers, Danny Applegate and Tommy Tyrving, were tired but ready to return to work.

They were freed Thursday in Taraza, 225 miles northwest of Bogota, by rebels seeking to halt construction of the Swedish-owned Skanska hydroelectric plant.

``They have been living with the guerrillas, sharing their conditions, eating their food, always (moving) on foot and sleeping in tents,″ said Alf Lindstroem, a Skanska spokesman.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which kidnapped the men, said the Swedes were kidnapped Dec. 13 to alert the world to the ``lethal threat to the ecosystem″ posed by the hydroelectric plant.

In order to build the hydroelectric plant that the two engineers were involved in, the Sinu River must be diverted and nearby jungle land flooded.

The rebel group is the largest of several guerrilla groups that have fought the government for decades and gone on a spree of grabbing foreigners. More than a half-dozen Americans, two Italians and a Canadian are believed held by different rebel bands.

A spokesman for the Swedish Embassy said no ransom was paid.

The hostages’ release was almost aborted when army helicopters flew over the site where rebels freed the Swedes, said Bernardo Hoyos, a member of the commission of bishops and other officials that received the pair.

Guerrillas backed off promises to release the Swedes on several occasions this year, saying there was too much military activity in the area.

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