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FARC denies hostage release in works

April 4, 2008 at 1:08 AM

BOGOTA, April 4 (UPI) -- A top rebel commander said the group would not free a high-profile hostage unless rebel prisoners were freed as well, Colombian officials said.

Rodrigo Granda, a leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, denied reports that the group would allow medical personnel to treat hostage Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate whose son claims his mother is near death and in need of a blood transfusion, El Tiempo newspaper reported Thursday online.

Betancourt was captured by FARC rebels in 2002 during the presidential campaign. Local media reports said her health appeared to be failing.

FARC has been battling Colombian forces for more than 40 years.

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