FARC’s Motives for Hostage Release Remain Unclear

FARC’s Motives for Hostage Release Remain Unclear

BOGOTÁ, Colombia -- The release of four hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) over the weekend has raised much speculation about the motives behind the group's move. The freeing of three low-ranking policemen and a soldier held captive since 2007 is the first unilateral handover in almost a year.

For the government, the latest hostage release is a clear sign that the guerrillas are sinking under the pressure of daily military offensives carried out by its armed forces, which have prompted increasing numbers of fighters to desert FARC ranks. Growing public pressure and a string of setbacks -- including the death of three FARC commanders and the loss of its high-profile hostages (three U.S citizens and ex-presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who were snatched by the Colombian military posing as aid workers from the FARC last year) -- has placed great strain on the guerrillas. The latest release of hostages signals "the start of the FARC giving up," according to José Obdulio, a key presidential adviser.

Amid almost daily bombings of FARC strongholds in the country's south and border areas by Colombia's armed forces, weakened guerrilla fronts have no choice but to give up their hostages rather than risk the prospect of them escaping or being rescued by the armed forces, argues the government.

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