Colombian Rebels Free 2 Captives; 2 More Slated

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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - Colombian rebels released to the International Red Cross on Friday two more captives, a young marine they captured eight months ago and a 48-year-old town councilman seized in 2009.

That brought to three the number of captives that the leftist The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, have released this week. Two more liberations are slated for Sunday.

The two were flown to safety from remote southern Colombia in a Brazilian military helicopter.

However, hopes that a new batch of liberations by the FARC could augur peace talks were dampened by the kidnapping Wednesday by suspected rebels of two men authorities identified as paper company employees.

That same day, the FARC freed another town councilman, its first unilateral release of a captive since May of last year.

President Juan Manuel Santos complained Thursday that the new abductions indicated the FARC was playing "a double game" - "on the one hand mounting liberations with great fanfare and on the other continuing to kidnap."

He said he had considered suspending permission for the liberations but decided against it thinking of the families awaiting the men.

In all, 17 so-called "political" hostages of the FARC have been freed since early 2008. Fewer than 20 remain in rebel custody, several for more than 12 years.

All the releases have been brokered by leftist ex-Sen. Piedad Cordoba.

One of two Brazilian choppers loaned for the mission was used Friday to evacuate a soldier from the area. Armed forces chief Adm. Edgar Cely said the soldier's left foot was blown off by land mine.

Normally, freed hostages have arrived to freedom in the gear they wore as captives in the jungle: rubber boots, sweat pants and the like.

The councilman freed Friday, Armando Acuna, was wearing a light gray suit and a pink tie when he got out of the helicopter in the southern provincial capital of Florencia. He told reporters they were gifts of the rebels.

The FARC, Latin America's last remaining rebel army, has been fighting a succession of Colombian governments since 1964. It has suffered a series of withering blows in recent years, including the killing of its military chief, Jorge Briceno, in a September bombing raid.

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Associated Press writer Vivian Sequera contributed to this report.
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