July 3, 2008

Colombia: Betancourt Rejoices at Freedom

Freed Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt Thursday was met by her children who she had not seen during six years as a captive of leftist rebels.

Betancourt, a one-time presidential candidate who was captured in 2002 by rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, expressed joy at the sight of her two grown children, El Tiempo reported online.

Betancourt, 46, also recounted how Colombian forces dressed as FARC rebels duped her captors into transporting her and 14 other hostages in a helicopter, only to turn the tables on the rebels once the aircraft lifted off.

Three U.S. citizens, Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell, were among 15 hostages rescued Wednesday from leftist rebels in Colombia. The men, civilian contractors for the U.S. government, were captured in February 2003 when their plane crashed in the Colombian jungle.

The Colombian government has been fighting the FARC for more than 40 years.