BOGOTA, Colombia – Colombia's FARC guerrillas are offering to free an ex-governor, a former lawmaker and four other hostages to help launch talks on a prisoner swap, local news media reported Sunday.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia said in a statement that the release would happen soon but did not give a date, Radio Caracol reported.
"As an irrefutable demonstration of our good will and as a gesture aimed at creating conditions favorable to a humanitarian exchange, we announce the upcoming release of six prisoners, in two stages," read the statement, dated Dec. 17. Caracol provided a copy of the message to The Associated Press.
The rebels said three unidentified police officers and a soldier will be freed first, followed by former Gov. Alan Jara of southern Meta state, who was kidnapped in July 2001; and Valle del Cauca regional lawmaker Sigifredo Lopez, held since April 2002.
"The manner, time and place (of the release) will be announced at the proper time," the FARC said, adding that the hostages would be handed over to a commission headed by opposition Sen. Piedad Cordoba, who has worked in the past to win freedom for the hostages.
The FARC released six politicians in January and February. In July, a military operation freed 15 high-profile hostages, including three U.S. contractors and French-Colombian dual national and former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.