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Venezuelan helicopters lift off for Colombia on hostage recovery mission

Venezuelan helicopters lift off for Colombia on hostage recovery mission

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sent two helicopters into Colombia on Friday on a delicate mission to pluck three hostages from rebel-held areas of the Colombian jungle.
Wearing the red beret and fatigues of his paratrooper days, Chavez saw off the helicopters as they departed from western Venezuela. American filmmaker Oliver Stone and a group of international obsevers were by his side.
"The operation has begun. With these two helicopters goes great hope," Chavez said as the two Russian-made MI-172 helicopters lifted off, bearing Red Cross insignia as well as the Venezuelan flag. "We're going to get those three people in the coming days."
Chavez called the mission "Operation Emmanuel," after the captive child who is believed to be the son of hostage Clara Rojas and a guerrilla fighter.
Colombia's U.S.-allied government agreed to allow the Venezuelan helicopters to land at an air base south of Bogota and then take off Saturday morning to pick up former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez, Rojas and the boy, who is thought to be 3 years old. The women have been held captive for about six years.
"I'm hoping it works," said Stone, a friend of Chavez. He told reporters that he's filming "a documentary about Latin America and also about North America."


Updated : 2021-04-24 02:21 GMT+08:00