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FARC releases foreign hostage

COLOMBIA'S FARC guerrillas freed their last foreign hostage, an ailing Swedish national they kidnapped nearly two years ago in an extortion attempt, Colombian authorities said on Tuesday.

The captive, identified by police as Erik Roland Larsson, 69, was snatched from his farm by rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, who officials say had initially sought a US$5 million ransom for his release.

Two photographs from the DAS state security police showed agents lifting Larsson, barefoot, dressed in a green T-shirt and blue pants, out of a canoe and carrying him across muddy, rural terrain after he was handed over by guerrillas.

"He is in a delicate state of health and at this moment is being evaluated by a medical team in the city of Monteria. He will later be transferred to Bogota," the DAS said in a statement.

Violence and kidnappings have dropped off as the rebels have been weakened by President Alvaro Uribe's security campaign.

Larsson had worked on a hydroelectric project in the north of the country. Six gunmen kidnapped him in May 2007.

Last month, the FARC released six political hostages, including the last politicians held in captivity.

Three American contractors and French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt were among the FARC's most-prized political hostages before they were freed in July last year.


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