February 5, 2008 in Nation/World

Millions of Colombians rally against rebels

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review

BOGOTA, Colombia – Millions of Colombians wearing white T-shirts marched in their homeland and abroad Monday to demand the country’s largest rebel group stop kidnapping people and release those it holds.

The idea of the protests against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, was born less than a month ago on the social networking Web site Facebook.

The protests were concentrated in Colombia and Latin American capitals, though there were smaller protests in Spain, Sweden, Hungary, France, Italy, India, Miami and elsewhere.

In Colombia’s capital, the protest swelled, with long lines of people shouting “Freedom! Freedom!” marching along Bogota’s main thoroughfare. Television channels suspended programming to broadcast marches around the country.

An estimated 4.8 million people turned out for 387 events across Colombia, according to police.

Colombia’s government says the FARC is holding more than 700 hostages, including three U.S. military contractors and former French-Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, whom it is trying to swap for imprisoned rebels.

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