Trickery Brings Colombia Hostages to Safety

Betancourt, others freed by soldiers posing as aid workers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2008 5:49 PM CDT
In this 2003 file photo, US military contractors Keith Stansell, left, Marc Gonsalves, center, and Tom Howes, are seen after their capture by Colombian FARC rebels.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A simple ruse led to the freedom of the high-profile hostages held for years by Colombia's FARC rebels, Reuters reports. Government soldiers duped guerrillas into believing they were humanitarian aid workers and offered to fly the hostages from their jungle hideaway to meet with FARC boss Alfonso Cano. Instead, they flew Ingrid Betancourt, three US military contractors and 11 others to freedom.

"This was an unprecedented operation," said Colombia's defense chief. "It will go down in history for its audaciousness and effectiveness." Few details have emerged about the hostages' health, except a general statement that they all appear to be reasonably well. "I am filled with happiness," said the sister of Betancourt, a former presidential candidate. "These have been long years of waiting."