Rebels free Colombian ex-lawmaker, key step to peace talks

Colombia's No. 2 rebel group has freed a captive former congressman whose release was a key condition for the start of peace talks with the government.

Local officials tell The Associated Press by telephone that the National Liberation Army has turned Odin Sanchez over to a humanitarian commission including members of the Red Cross.

President Juan Manuel Santos has made Sanchez's release a condition for starting talks with the group known as the ELN. A peace deal with the much larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is now being implemented.

Colombia has been struggling with rebel conflicts for more than half a century.