Colombian Rebels Release Police Hostages Held for Months

Leftist rebels released two police hostages held for more than six months on Saturday, the Red Cross said.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, released the police officer and cadet at La Dorada in Putumayo province, about 335 miles southeast of Bogota, near the Ecuadorean border.

The Red Cross said the two were released in good health.

The initial announcement March 15 that the men would be released came as a surprise. The FARC has largely rejected peace entreaties, declaring as recently as January that it would never negotiate with the government of President Alvaro Uribe.

Uribe thanked the International Red Cross for its help and urged the FARC to release all its captives.

Colombia's largest and oldest rebel forces, the FARC still hold about 60 politically prominent Colombians and three U.S. defense contractors.

The group uses kidnappings as a source of income and to pressure the government in its struggle to establish a Marxist-style state.

Colombia's civil war has raged for more than four decades, pitting the rebels against the government and right-wing paramilitary forces that have in the past operated with the tacit support of the armed forces.

Kidnappings have fallen by more than 70 percent since Uribe took office in 2002 and increased the number of soldiers and police. Colombia, however, remains the world leader in abductions, with 800 kidnappings reported last year.