Ex-congressman freed from Colombian rebels

October 26, 2008 9:02:12 AM PDT
An ex-congressman abducted eight years ago by leftist Colombian rebels has been freed in a military operation. Oscar Tulio Lizcano, 62, was rescued early Sunday in a rural part of Choco province in western Colombia, said Henry Murillo, governing secretary of Caldas province, where the ex-lawmaker was originally abducted.

Martha de Lizcano wept upon being told of her husband's rescue.

"It's been eight years of great suffering," she told local media outlet Caracol.

Colombian police and military did not release details of the operation to free Lizcano from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

A press conference with Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos to give the details of rescue was scheduled for later Sunday in the city of Cali.

Lizcano was transported to Cali for a medical examination since his health is delicate, Cesar Velasquez, a spokesman for the president's office, said in a telephone interview.

Lizcano, an economist, was abducted on Aug. 5, 2000, in the village of Riosucio in Caldas province, northwest of the capital, Bogota. At the time of his kidnapping, he was a Conservative Party's representative in Congress.

His freeing follows the July 2 high-profile military rescue of former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt from the hands of the FARC.

Military intelligence agents freed 15 rebel-held hostages - including the French-Colombian Betancourt - by posing as aid workers on a mock humanitarian mission that rebels were told would ferry their hostages by helicopter to another camp for talks on a prisoner swap.

The hostage rescue was a major blow to Latin America's last remaining major rebel army.

In April, the FARC had released a so-called "proof-of-life" video of Lizcano in which the pleaded with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to do "the utmost to get us out of here because we are rotting in the jungle."


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