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Venezuela has location of 4 hostages to be freed by Colombian rebels, justice minister says

Venezuela has location of 4 hostages to be freed by Colombian rebels, justice minister says

Colombian rebels have told President Hugo Chavez's government the location where they hope to hand over four hostages, Venezuela's justice minister said Monday.
Once the Colombian government authorizes the operation, "we would be ready to leave first thing on Wednesday" to pick up the hostages with helicopters, Justice Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin said.
"We now have with precision the place where the four hostages are being held by the FARC," Rodriguez Chacin told reporters, referring to the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
However, he said there have been heavy Colombian military operations in the zone _ an accusation denied by the Colombian military.
Colombia's army commander, Gen. Mario Montoya, said earlier that "there are no military operations in the zone." But Rodriguez said "there are military operations, and very strong ones."
He spoke flanked by relatives of the Colombian hostages Gloria Polanco, former Sen. Luis Eladio Perez, and ex-congressman Orlando Beltran. The rebels also have pledged to release ailing former congressman Jorge Gechem.
The justice minister, who last month oversaw the release of three other hostages, said Venezuela does not plan to share the pickup coordinates with the International Committee of the Red Cross, as it did last time.
He said that was "at the FARC's request."
The ICRC spokesman in Colombia, Yves Heller, told The Associated Press: "We've got the green light from the FARC. We've got the green light from the Colombians, and tomorrow we will try to get the necessary security guarantees from the Colombians."
The FARC first announced plans to release Polanco, Perez and Beltran last month, saying the decision stemmed from efforts by Chavez and "other friendly governments" to help resolve Colombia's armed conflict. The group later announced plans to free Gechem.
The Colombian government has said it knows the hostages' location and has urged the FARC to come through on its pledge quickly.
The FARC has proposed to trade more than 40 other high-value hostages _ including former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. defense contractors _ for hundreds of imprisoned guerrillas.


Updated : 2021-06-22 02:25 GMT+08:00