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Colombian rebels hand over two hostages
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Colombia's Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) rebels handed over on Thursday Clara Rojas and former legislator Consuelo Gonzalez to an international humanitarian mission in jungles of the country.



This TV grab from Venezuelan channel Telesur showing Clara Rojas (3rd L) and Consuelo Gonzalez de Perdomo (2nd R) next to former Venezuelan Interior and Justice Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin (C) and Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba (2nd L) upon their arrival in Santo Domingo, state of Tachira, after their release by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrillas.


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the handover was carried out somewhere in Colombia's southeastern jungle.


Chavez stated he received information about the handover of the two hostages by Venezuelan Interior minister Ramon Rodriguez.


Rodriguez traveled in Venezuelan helicopters to pick up the hostages together with Cuban ambassador in Venezuela, German Sanchez, Colombia's former dialogues negotiator Piedad Cordoba and International Red Cross representatives to the Colombian jungle.


"Our interior minister has just told me we are receiving Clara and Consuelo from a FARC command, I greeted the head of the FARC's patrol," Chavez said.


Rodriguez said the handover occurred at 11:20 Venezuelan time (15:50 GMT) and the former hostages are in "good conditions."


Chavez informed about the hostages' transfer in moments in which he was welcoming Dominica's prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit, and interrupted the act to report the operation's success.


The International Red Cross Committee's spokesman in Venezuela, Irma Alvarez, confirmed that the international group received the hostages somewhere in the jungle, whose coordinates were given to the Venezuelan government.



Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez announces the release of Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez de Perdomo from the FARC guerrillas at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas.


The two helicopters' pilots received the coordinates while in flight due to security reasons.


The operation began at San Jose del Guaviare airport, Guaviare department, southeast of Colombia.


Venezuelan Defense minister Juan Manuel Santos said the handover was carried out in a zone between the municipalities of La paz and Tamachipan, in Guaviare.


Santos said the choppers parted at about 12:00 local time (17:00 GMT) and were heading towards Santo Domingo, in the Venezuelan state of Tachira.


Thereafter the hostages will be transferred to Caracas.


Rojas was kidnapped in 2002 and Gonzalez in 2001 and their release was being awaited since days at the end of last year.


(Xinhua News Agency January 11, 2008)

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