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BOGOTA - Colombia's second-largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), freed two German hostages on Friday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.
The rebels said in early February they had captured the two men in Catatumbo, near the border with Venezuela, and identified the captives as Uwe Breuer and Gunther Otto Breuer.
In a statement, the ICRC said the two Germans were transferred by helicopter to a nearby airport in northeast Norte de Santander province, and were handed over to the German embassy and representatives of Colombia's government.
The hostages had been held since November, it said.
The ELN said initially they considered the two to be intelligence agents because they could not explain why they were in the area, but the German government said they were pensioners traveling in a four-wheel drive through South America.
In late February, Colombia's government authorized a committee of civilians and Red Cross officials to travel to the area to talk to the guerrillas.
Security sources say the kidnappings may have been part of a ploy by the ELN to press the government to include them in peace talks underway in Cuba between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the country's largest rebel group. - Reuters