The Colombian government said Wednesday that its army has rescued 15 hostages, including former presidency candidate Ingrid Betancourt held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos told reporters that the hostages, also including three US military advisers and11 Colombian soldiers, were rescued Wednesday in an "unprecedented" operation in the southern Colombian province of Guaviare.
French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt (front row, 4th L) poses with other released hostages, her mother Yolanda Pulecio (front row, 3rd L) and members of the Colombian military at Catam military airport in Bogota July 2, 2008. (Xinhua/Retuers Photo)
The helicopter-backed military operation, named "Jaque", was conceived more than one year ago with intelligence agents infiltrating into the heart of the FARC, Santos said.
The intelligence agents had managed to convince the rebel commander in charge of the hostages to believe they were going to take the hostages to Alfonso Cano, the guerrillas' supreme leader.
And the hostages, divided into three groups, were taken to a rendezvous before being flown away by two disguised helicopters piloted by Colombian military agents, said Santos. The hostages did not realize they were freed until the disguised militants told them they were "National Army".
The operation, without exchanging fire and causing any casualties, "will go into history for its audacity and effectiveness," Santos said.