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Colombian rebels free Swedish hostage: official

Colombian rebels have released 69-year-old Swede, Erik Roland Larsson who was kidnapped in 2007 by the leftist FARC guerrilla movement.

world Updated: Mar 18, 2009 10:51 IST

Colombian rebels have released Swedish citizen Erik Roland Larsson who was kidnapped in 2007 by the leftist FARC guerrilla movement, a Colombian intelligence spokesman has said.

"We know that he was set free by his captors," the spokesman told AFP on Tuesday, adding that the Swede was set free near Monteria, 790 kilometers northeast of Bogota.

The 69-year-old engineer was snatched by guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in May 2007 along with his partner, who escaped four days later and publicised his fate.

In February, Sweden's ambassador to Colombia appealed for his release and recalled that he was the only Swedish hostage in the world.

According to the Colombian intelligence agency, FARC guerillas had demanded five million dollars for Larsson's release. Larsson's health "is fragile" and is being reviewed by a medical team in Monteria, said the intelligence spokesman.

The jungle-based FARC have fought a four-decade long struggle against the Colombian government, but are classed as a terrorist organisation by Washington and the European Union.

The group, thought to consist of up to 10,000 fighters, is believed to hold more than 700 hostages, actions which have heavily eroded public support for the organisation.

First Published: Mar 18, 2009 10:42 IST