Íngrid Betancourt and others rescued, says Colombia

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

According to Colombian defense minister Juan Manuel Santos, 15 hostages have been rescued, some of whom have been held for as long as six years by the FARC.

Among them are former Colombian presidential candidate Íngrid Betancourt, three American contractors for the United States military and 11 military men.

The operation that resulted in the rescue was called Jaque by the Colombian Army. Troops involved in the operation were disguised as non-governmental figures from a non-existent organization. FARC members were led to believe that they would get on a plane to meet Alfonso Cano, the leader of FARC. No shots were fired and there were no injuries. Betancourt called the operation, "perfect."

"God, this is a miracle... There is no historical precedent for such a perfect operation," Betancourt told reporters during a press conference at an air force base located in Bogotá.

Alfonso Cano

The U.S. states that it played a role in the planning of the operation, but did not specify the significance of their role.

John McCain, Presumptive Republican Party nominee for President of the U.S., said he had been briefed on the operation by Colombian President Álvaro Uribe and defense minister Juan Manuel Santos.

"This was a Colombian conceived and led operation; we supported the operation," said U.S. Deputy Press Secretary Gordon Johndroe. "This rescue was long in the planning, and we’ve been working with the Colombians for five years, since the hostages were taken, to free them from captivity."

The rescued individuals are:

  • José Miguel Arteaga
  • Juan Carlos Bermeo
  • Íngrid Betancourt
  • Julio Buitrago
  • Armando Castellanos
  • Jhon Jairo Durán
  • Armando Flórez
  • Mark Gonzalve
  • Thomas Howen
  • José Ricardo Marulanda
  • Vianey Rodríguez
  • Erasmo Romero
  • Raimundo Malagón Sargento
  • William Pérez Sargento
  • Keith Stansell