Ecuadorian hostage given freedom by Colombian rebel


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The Independent US

A deserter from a Colombian guerrilla army has led an Ecuadorean hostage to freedom after two years in captivity.

The National Liberation Army rebel, who was not named, led Orlando Sigifredo Ibarra Sarmiento on a four-hour walk to reach troops in south-western Colombia. Mr Ibarra, a 39-year-old businessman, was kidnapped in August 2010 in the border city of Ipiales.

The National Liberation Army, a leftist group that has long been trying to overthrow Colombia's government, is believed to have at least 3,000 fighters. Rebel groups have often used kidnappings as bargaining chips or to finance their operations through ransoms.

Mr Ibarra said the rebels were preparing to move when "a comrade, an envoy of God, came up... and told me, 'Brother, would you like to go home?' ... And I said, 'Let's do it'." He said they walked until reaching a mobile phone signal and called the navy.