A Venezuela-brokered deal to rescue three hostages from Colombian rebels has fallen apart, Reuters reports. The leftist FARC rebels blamed the deal's failure on stepped-up Colombian army operations in the area and refused to relinquish hostages "due to fear for their safety and the safety of members involved in the operation," said a statement by the guerrillas.
Colombian president Alvaro Uribe angrily accused the rebels of making excuses. His Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, said Uribe sabotaged his plan and suggested there had been interference from the US. He insisted the operation to free the three hostages—two female politicians and a 3-year-old boy born to one of them in captivity —was ongoing. Uribe said the boy was turned over to Colombian foster care 2 years ago.