BOGOTA, Colombia – Colombian soldiers freed two high-ranking police officers and an army sergeant who were among the longest-held rebel captives during a raid Sunday in the South American nation’s southern jungle.
Six months in the planning, the rescue operation freed police Gen. Luis Mendieta and Col. Enrique Murillo, both captured by leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas in a November 1998 siege of the eastern provincial capital of Mitu.
Also freed was Arbey Delgado, a soldier held since an August 1998 rebel attack on an anti-drug outpost in the southern jungle town of Miraflores.
Defense Minister Gabriel Silva said the 300-man raid was carried out with “surgical” precision but conceded that another rebel-held Colombian soldier, Lt. Col. William Donato, fled during the confrontation with rebels and that his fate was still unknown.
“We have high hopes that he is in hiding and that he will be found in the coming hours,” Silva said.