Colombian Rebels Release Hostages Amid Stalled Peace Talks

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BOGOTA, (VOANEWS).- Colombia’s last remaining rebel group, the ELN, has released six people it kidnapped last month.

The hostages, including three police officers, an army soldier and two civilian contractors, were released Thursday in the western district of Choco to a humanitarian mission that included members of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

President Ivan Duque suspended peace talks with the ELN shortly after taking office last month and demanded the group stop all of its criminal activities, including kidnappings, and release all of its hostages.

Duque has promised to rewrite the peace accord negotiated by his predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos, that ended the five-decade-old civil war between the government and the main rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The 1,500-member strong ELN has refused to sign on to the agreement.

Leftist rebels began fighting a guerrilla war in 1964 to topple Colombian governments. More than 220,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced. The rebels used drug trafficking and kidnappings for ransom to fund their war.

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Iván Duque, ELN