Colombia: Police officer killed in FARC hostage rescue operation

BOGOTÁ, Colombia – A police officer was killed by FARC guerrillas during an operation to rescue a man kidnapped two months ago in a rural area in northeastern Colombia, officials said.

Deputy chief Carlos Yesid Celis Joya, a 14-year veteran and Gaula (Unified Action Groups for Personal Liberty) officer, died in the operation on July 30 in a rural area outside Santiago, a city in Norte de Santander department, where authorities were looking for a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) column that had been holding Luis Antonio Rivera Leal hostage since May 29.

The kidnappers were demanding a ransom of about US$300,000 for Rivera’s release.

“We have to point out that the National Police’s Gaula groups have staged 37 rescues this year, and not one captive has been harmed, not even wounded,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said in a statement.

[La Opinión (Colombia), 01/08/2011; RCN (Colombia), 01/08/2011]

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