in

Colombian rebel deserter helps hostage escape


Former hostage Orlando Sigifredo Ibarra Sarmiento exits a plane at a military base in Bogota, Colombia. (AP)

BOGOTA, Colombia –  A deserter from a Colombian guerrilla army has led an Ecuadorean hostage to freedom.

The rebel, whose name was not released, led Orlando Sigifredo Ibarra Sarmiento on a four-hour walk to reach troops in southwestern Colombia, the navy said in a communique as it presented the freed man before reporters Monday.

It did not identify the rebel from the National Liberation Army.

Ibarra, wearing a long black beard, 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 cellular phone signal and called the navy, which quickly sent troops to meet them.

In Quito, Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino welcomed news of Ibarra’s escape after two years in captivity. “It was anguish both for his family and for Ecuador,” he said of Ibarra’s ordeal.

Ibarra, a 39-year-old businessman, was seized on Aug. 2, 2010, in the border city of Ipiales.

He said his father was killed in January while trying to make contact with the rebels to arrange his release.

The National Liberation Army is the second-largest of the leftist rebel groups that have been trying to overthrow Colombia’s government. It is believed to have at least 3,000 fighters.

The larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia announced earlier this year that it was freeing all of its hostages and last week it agreed to open peace talks with the government.

The National Liberation Army did not join in either agreement.

Colombian rebel groups have often used kidnappings to finance their operations through ransoms or to hold captives as bargaining chips.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Today Colombia than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organizations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our site as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. Updating reports on Today Colombia takes a lot of time, money and hard work. But we do it because we believe our reports matter.
If everyone who reads Today Colombia, who likes it, helps to support it by clicking our ads, our future would be much more secure. Do you part, click on an ad today.

Written by Rico

Rico

"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of onlinemagazines that includes TodayColombia.com. Rico brings his special kind of savvy to online marketing. His websites are engaging, provocative, informative and sometimes off the wall, where you either like or you leave it. The same goes for him, like him or leave him.There is no middle ground. No compromises, only a passion to present reality as he sees it!