Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, on Thursday released a police officer captured in combat last month. Rafael Eduardo Sierra, 19, was kidnapped by the left-wing group following an ambush which resulted in the death of five police officers, in the northwestern state of Antioquia.
Sierra and his colleagues were part of an anti-narcotics operation in the area when they came under fire.
Last month the ELN website said that the police officer would be released in good health and has “been treated according to the rules of international humanitarian law.”
The ICRC acted as intermediaries in the release of the 19-year-old. Sierra was transferred by helicopter to the municipality Caucasia, Antioquia following a medical examination.
“We are pleased to have contributed to end the anguish of this family and facilitate their reunion,” said Jordi Raich, head of the ICRC delegation in Colombia.
In 2013, the international aid organization has facilitated the release of 25 people captured by armed groups in Colombia. Since 1994, the ICRC has acted as intermediaries in more than 1,500 hostage cases.
Raich said that “the ICRC reiterates its disposal to continue as a neutral intermediary to facilitate the release of others held by armed groups.”
The ELN has been negotiating with the Colombian government to set up peace talks similar to those taking place with FARC in Cuba.
- International Committee of Red Cross Press Release
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