Colombian Rebels Free Soldier Held for 12 Years
Man reunited with family after ordeal among Colombian rebels
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2010 8:04 AM CDT
Hostage Pablo Moncayo, right, removes the chains from the wrists of his father Gustavo Moncayo in Florencia, southern Colombia after being released by FARC rebels.   (AP Photo/William Fernando Martinez)
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(Newser) – A Colombian soldier held hostage for more than 12 years was freed by rebels yesterday and reunited with his family, ending an ordeal that prompted his father to hike halfway across the country wearing a symbolic chain around his neck to press for his son's release. Sgt. Pablo Emilio Moncayo was one of FARC's longest held captives. He was 19 when taken during an attack on a mountain outpost on Dec. 21, 1997.

Moncayo was flown to the city of Florencia on a Brazilian military helicopter that picked him up at an unannounced spot in southern Colombia. As he stepped off the helicopter, his family rushed to embrace him, including a 6-year-old sister he was meeting for the first time. Moncayo's father had been wearing chains around his wrists in solidarity with his son ever since his attention-grabbing 620-mile hike in 2007. "I heard my father, that he wanted me to take off the chains. So I'm going to do that right now," Moncayo said as he pulled the chains over his father's hands.