Feb 27 - Colombian rebel group FARC says it will end its long-held policy of kidnap for ransom and free military and police hostages. Paul Chapman reports.
PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Colombian army corporal Arturo Arcia's been a hostage of FARC rebels since 1998. The rebel group's announcement that it's to end kidnapping for ransom and free the ten soldiers and police officers it's holding is being welcomed by Arcia's family. SOUNDBITE: Cristina Arcia, sister of hostage Arturo Arcia, saying (Spanish): "Here in the Arcia family we miss our brother but we're very happy now because we know that he'll be coming home. The FARC released that statement and that's what matters now, that my brother is listed among the ten to be freed." The rebels haven't said what would happen to the scores of civilians they're also holding hostage. The Colombians for Peace group says the rebels' announcement is good news but the fate of the civilians also needs to be addressed. SOUNDBITE: Marleny Orjuela, spokesperson for Colombians for Peace, saying (Spanish): "This very good not just for Colombians for Peace but for the country as a whole because I think kidnapping cannot continue to be a political weapon but we also ask that hopefully all kidnapped civilians will be freed soon." The rebels' statement that they would no longer kidnap for financial ends is the first of its kind since they took up arms in 1964. It could be a sign they're looking for some sort of peace negotiations after more than a decade of U.S.-backed strikes that have severely weakened them. Paul Chapman, Reuters